Medical Rights You Don’t Have


  • All pharmacies under federal law may deny you your prescriptions if they believe it is possible to overdose on them – even if you’ve been taking them for 20 years.
    • You have no legal right to request that your pharmacy hand over their copies of your medical history for any reason. Even if you win a malpractice suit against them, they are protected under the law to have you on file…forever.
  • You have no rights to access your own medical records.  It is legal for your doctor to charge you a fee for a copy of your medical records as well as implement a waiting period.  ($400 for a 20-minute doctor appointment simply doesn’t cover you receiving a copy of the results.) Fortunately, you are not charged an additional fee every time your doctor views them.
  • You do not have the right to access a provider’s psychotherapy notes.  Psychotherapy notes are notes taken by a mental health professional during a conversation with the patient and kept separate from the patient’s medical and billing records.  The Privacy Rule also does not permit the provider to make most disclosures of psychotherapy notes about you without your authorization.
  • If you are misdiagnosed or wrongfully billed for treatment, you can request that the health care provider or health plan amend the record. Theoretically, the health care provider or health plan must respond to your request.  However if the provider or plan does not agree to your request, you may submit a statement of disagreement.
  • What are your rights regarding the sale of your medical information? Personal health information is a valuable commodity. Many businesses are interested in collecting it to profile consumers for targeted marketing, and because of its worth, covered entities may also be motivated to sell personal health information.

    Under current law, your medical information can be sold under these circumstances:

    • permitted public health activities;
    • certain kinds of research, but the price of the information must reflect the actual costs of preparing and transmitting the data (in other words, it cannot be sold for profit);
    • your treatment as a patient—a potentially vast exception that needs further regulation, for example, what constitutes “treatment” and is there any limit to the products or services that are necessary for treatment;
    • when a covered entity that has your medical information is sold, transferred, merged, or consolidated with another covered entity;
    • when a covered entity pays a business associate for activities that the business associate conducts on its behalf—for example the business associate is a billing service that bills you on behalf of a health care provider; and
    • what a covered entity charges for providing you with a copy of your medical information.

So, in a nutshell, you can be denied your valid prescription refills and you have no privacy regarding your medical records.  You also have no automatic right to view your own records. Your medical records can, however be sold to help boost profits.

On the other hand, if your pharmacy or doctor abuses your healthcare, there are no laws enforcing them to right this wrong.  (But rest assured, you do maintain the right to file a request.)

…and remind me again why politicians and the public aren’t all over this?