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Re: Rel. of Information - Secondary release (fwd)
I don't mean to make your lives more complicated, but the law
already did that. Not only do medical and contract laws apply,
but also copy rights and ordinary property rights.
In 1989, the USA signed the Bern convention with regard to copyright
laws. Since that date, the author of any work (including documents)
automatically becomes the copyright owner. Neither registration
with the copyright office, nor a copyright notice in the work itself
is necessary. All medical records are thus automatically copyrighted
In the context of this thread, the copyright owner is the originator
of the records. (Sorry, the patient has no legal equity, even if we
wished otherwise.) Hollywood movies on a video cassette and a patient's
medical record on paper have the same legal status under copyright laws.
If you receive a copy of records from the copyright owner, you are free
to use the copy as needed, but without specific permission from the
copyright owner, you are not permitted to copy it. Certain fair use
exceptions apply, none of which are relevant here.
This implies that you are not allowed to make copies of a medical
record, (or a Hollywood movie), for any other third party for any reason.
Not even a subpoena. You may, comply with a court order or a
federal law by turning over your physical copy, or by letting
them inspect it, but you may not make another copy.
What about digital forms of the records soon to be zinging around
the airways? How does copyright apply to these? I have no idea.
Property right laws may also come into play. If the doctor dies, the
copy rights, and the property rights of the physical records go to the
heirs who may sell them just like any other property. Since neither
the heirs nor the ultimate buyers need be health care providers or
trustees, I presume that they are unencumbered by any confidentiality
laws. Medical records are just like office furniture in this case;
just ordinary property.
I hasten to add that I'm not a lawyer. For actual legal advice you
should consult your own attorney. You may also with to consult the
"Copyright Myths FAQ: 10 big myths about copyright explained",
Chicago-Kent College of Law
Dick Mills +1(518)395-5154 O- http://www.pti-us.com
AKA firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.albany.net/~dmills
"Whenever people agree with me, I always feel I must be wrong." - Wilde