Dental professionals will soon encounter a new rule designed to give patients greater access to their medical records.

The goal of the federal regulation is to enhance patient rights and broaden their access to information about their health.

Under the information blocking rule, medical professionals are prohibited from closing off access to medical records or making it more difficult for their patients to review their medical and dental information.

While the rule went into effect this April, the deadline for providers to comply is extended due to the pandemic.

The federal rule will give patients immediate access to data, if needed, including information about consultation, discharge, procedures, progress, imaging and lab reports, history and examinations.

Non-dental related information, such as psychotherapy notes, are not subject to disclosure as defined by HIPPA.

Medical professionals can block certain requests in some situations without penalty. The patient’s safety, privacy or security could be reasons for withholding information.

Other exceptions include infeasibility. If the information cannot be provided due to an uncontrollable event, it can be withheld without penalty as well.

Health providers can also charge for some access to medical records if certain conditions are met.

To learn more about the exceptions and to read full descriptions, visit the website of the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Dental offices can refresh staff on policies and provide training on how to expeditiously fulfill patient requests for information about their dental health. Providers are also encouraged to contact third-party partners about the new rules and to check in on software capability and resources that make access to vital information possible and easy to do.

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