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Patient Vision Records Maintained by
Ohio Therapeutic Certified Optometrists

This policy adopted by the Ohio State Board of Optometry regarding patient vision records maintained by therapeutic certified optometrists should not be considered as a final opinion, but rather as a general overview. Your therapeutic records policy for patients should be developed in conjunction with your attorney and/or professional liability insurer.

CONFIDENTIALITY

The release of confidential records regarding a patient's treatment and/or physical condition is a matter within the control of the patient. The privilege is personal to the patient, and if he/she or a legal guardian elects to waive the privilege for an insurance provider, other optometrist, or for some other reason, the information must be provided upon request.

Prior to the release of any medical/vision information to a third party, the therapeutic certified optometrist should require written authorization from the patient. That authorization should be examined to assure that the signature is authentic and is by a person of the age of majority, or by his/her guardian, or other personal representative.

The authorization should cover the release of documents requested especially if those confidential records relate to specific diseases, conditions, or health problems.

ACCESS TO OPTOMETRIC RECORDS

Optometric records developed by the therapeutic certified optometrist are primarily for the optometrists' own use and constitute his/her personal property. However, on written authorization of the patient, a therapeutic certified optometrist should provide a copy of the record to the patient, a physician, another optometrist, an attorney, or other person designated by the patient.

Routine insurance reimbursement forms can be prepared without charge, but a reasonable charge for patient records or more complex, complicated reports may be assessed.

TRANSFER OF RECORDS BY
THERAPEUTIC CERTIFIED OPTOMETRISTS

Upon retirement or termination of practice, patient records may be transferred to another therapeutic certified optometrist for custody. Patients should be notified of the transfer of records and also informed that the records can be forwarded to an optometrist of their choice. A reasonable charge may be made for copying lengthy records.

If a therapeutic certified optometrist is retiring or terminating a practice and elects to retain his/her patient records, the optometrist shall notify current patients of the need to find another optometrist. Then with proper patient authorization, the vision records should be released to the designated optometrist. If the patient does not request that the records be transferred to another optometrist, the records shall be retained for at least seven years by the optometrist or an authorized custodian.

RECORDS OF THERAPEUTIC CERTIFIED OPTOMETRISTS WHO
TERMINATE PRACTICE AT A LEASED LOCATION

A therapeutic certified optometrist who is departing from a practice at a leased location may allow copies of his/her patient lens prescriptions to remain at the office he/she is leasing. This will benefit the doctor's former patients who wish to return to the same location for their future eyewear.

The departing therapeutic certified optometrist shall not release full patient records to any non-licensed individual, unless the patient provides written authorization to the optometrist.

OTHER COMMENTS

Certain Ohio statutes have recognized a right of access to medical records by individuals who do not have prior approval by the person who is the subject of those records. Those statutes which give outside access are narrowly drawn and relate to emergency medical personnel's access, AIDS, spouse, sexual partner's access to test results, etc. Unless a life threatening situation exists, keep in mind that the more damaging the release of information would be to the patient, the greater is the need for confidentiality.

Therapeutic certified optometrists also have the responsibility to communicate the confidentiality requirements to all employees who have access to the doctor's records.

Approved Board Meeting of June 14, 1992