Georgia Patient Records Law

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December 30, 2013

Code Defenitions:

Who is a Patient?

O.C.G.A. 31-33-1 As used in this chapter, the term:

(1) 'Patient' means any person who has received health care services from a

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Who is a Provider?

2) 'Provider' means all hospitals, including public, private, osteopathic, and tuberculosis hospitals; other special care units, including podiatric facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and kidney disease treatment centers, including freestanding hemodialysis units; intermediate care facilities; ambulatory surgical or obstetrical facilities; health maintenance organizations; and home health agencies.

It shall also mean any person licensed to practice under Chapter 9, 11, 26, 34, 35, or 39 of Title 43.

What is a Record?

(3) 'Record' means a patient´s health record, including,  but not limited to,  evaluations, diagnoses, prognoses, laboratory reports, X-rays, prescriptions, and other  technical information used in assessing the patient´s condition, or the pertinent portion of the record relating to a specific condition or a summary of the record.

Who Owns the Medical Record in Georgia?

O.C.G.A. 31-33-3 (b) The rights granted to a patient or other person under this chapter are in addition to any other rights such patient or person may have relating to access to a patient´s records; however, nothing in this chapter shall be construed as granting to a patient or person any right of ownership in the records, as such records are owned by and are the property of the provider.

Record Retention in Georgia

31-33-2 (a)(1)(A) A provider having custody and  control of any evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, laboratory report, or biopsy slide in a patient´s  record shall retain such item for a period of not less than ten years from the date such item was created.

Retention Exceptions

(B) The requirements of subparagraph (A) of this  paragraph shall not apply to:

(i) An individual provider who has retired from or sold  his or her professional practice if such provider has notified the patient of such retirement or sale and offered to provide such items in the patient´s record or  copies thereof to another provider of the patient´s choice and, if the patient so requests, to the patient; or.

(ii) A hospital which is an institution as defined in  subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of Code Section 31-7-1, which shall retain patient records in accordance with rules and regulations for hospitals as issued by the department pursuant to Code Section 31-7-2.

Hospital records should be retained for at least 6 years after the patient's most recent discharge. Minor patients' records are handled differently; they should be maintained until the patient reaches his 27th birthday.

Allowable Fees*

  • $25.88 for administrative charges (Search, Retrieval and other Direct Administrative Costs)
  • $9.70 to certify a record
  • Actual postage charges
  • Copying: $.97 for first 20 pages; $.83 for pages 21-100; $.66 for each page over 100.
  • Full costs of copying anything not in paper form.
  • Adjusted annually in July of each year in accordance with provisions of code. (These rates were effective on July 15, 2012.)
  • These fees do not apply to records released for disability application purposes.
  • May request payment prior to copying

However…. Beware of HIPAA!

*O.C.G.A. 31-33-3

About Author:

Diane M. Janulis, J.D., M.S.N., B.S.N.

  • President, National Leadersip Congress, Opelika, Alabama
  • Principal, JurisMedia Group
  • Member, SAMHSA Services, military, veterans and their families' policy academy task force, Alabama
  • Retired counsel at King & Spalding LLP (Atlanta)
  • Practice concentrated on pharmaceutical products liability defense, including expert witnesses and scientific issues
  • Formerly practiced in areas of medical malpractice defense, health care risk management and health care law
  • Conducted more than 300 seminars on medical and legal issues both in the U.S. and internationally
  • Wrote several articles, chapters and a text on medical professional liability issues, documentation and medical records
  • Member of the American Health Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, Sigma Theta Tau and numerous other professional societies and associations
  • Practiced nursing for 13 years prior to entering law school
  • Testified as expert witness regarding nursing documentation
  • J.D. degree, University of Maryland; M.S.N degree, University of Pennsylvania; B.S.N. degree, Georgetown University
  • Can be contacted at 770-689-9186 or [email protected]

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