The Associated Press has learned that many doctors will ask patients for their informed consent to use electronic medical data after a diagnosis or injury, even if it’s not yet approved by a physician’s office.
While the practice has been widespread, the AP has not found any studies showing it’s the best practice.
Many doctors don’t require patients to tell them the reason for their request, such as their age, health status or health condition.
If a doctor asks for their consent, they must first ask a doctor who can sign off on the consent form.
“A physician can’t refuse a patient’s request to provide their consent to electronic medical information.
However, a physician may refuse to consent to a request to use the information,” said Susan Stokes, a public health professor at Georgetown University.
The AP’s investigation found that doctors in some states require patients’ consent before they can use electronic data in their health records.
States like Georgia and Mississippi require physicians to get a doctor’s permission before they’ll use medical information in electronic form.
In Florida, doctors can ask patients to provide information if they want to be able to use their medical records, but it’s a matter of how they’re going to use it, not what they can or cannot do with it.
In New York, doctors must get a patient to agree to consent before using electronic data.
If a doctor tells a patient that their health information will be used in their medical record, they’re required to ask a physician to sign off, Stokes said.
If doctors refuse to sign a consent form or don’t follow up, patients can ask for their own.
The practice of asking for patients’ informed consent may have led to the deaths of a California woman and a New York man who died of aneurysm complications, said the AP.
The woman died of a heart attack after doctors asked her to sign for an e-mail that included her name, address and phone number.
The man died of severe brain swelling after doctors gave him an intravenous drip that was labeled “injected.”