Many health care providers and health plans currently make provisions to help patients expedite amendments and corrections of their medical record where appropriate. If an error exists, both the patient and the health care provider or health plan benefit from the correction. However, as with inspection and copying, a person's right to request amendment and correction of individually identifiable health information about them is not guaranteed by all states. Based on these assumptions, the Department concludes that the principal economic effect of the final rule will be to expand the right to request amendments to protected health information held by health plans and covered health care providers to those who are not currently granted such right by state law. In addition, the rule may draw additional attention to the issue of record inaccuracies and stimulate patient demand for amendment of medical records.
Under the final regulation, if an individual requests an amendment to protected health information about him or her, the health care provider must either accept the amendment or provide the individual with the opportunity to submit a statement disagreeing with the denial. We expect the responses to requests will vary: sometimes an assistant will only make the appropriate notation in the record, requiring only a few minutes; other times a health care provider or manager will review the request and make changes if appropriate, which may require as much as an hour.
Unlike inspections, which currently occur in a small percentage of cases, fact-finding suggests that individuals rarely seek to amend their records today, but the establishment of this right in the rule may spur more requests, including among those who in the past would have only sought to inspect their records. Nevertheless, we expect that the absolute number of additional amendment requests caused by the rule to be small (about 200,000 per year spread over more than 600,000 entities), which will impose only a minor burden on small businesses.