Health Care Law

As a researcher in the healthcare field, I need access to patient medical records to do my research. What restrictions apply?

Under a Minnesota State law which became effective January 1, 1997, researchers who are external to a healthcare provider may not have access to the provider's patient records created as of that date unless the patient has signed a general written authorization allowing access to the medical record for research purposes. This requirement does not apply to researchers internal to the healthcare provider. Generally, an internal researcher is an employee or healthcare professional who has staff privileges at the provider's facility. However, each facility determines for itself who constitutes an internal researcher. In addition, the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) with jurisdiction to review the study may impose additional requirements to protect patient confidentiality. Medical records that have all patient identifiers removed are not subject to this state law and may be released without the patient's written authorization.