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Senate Committee Says New Rules Will Ease Patients’ Access to Electronic Medical Records

The chairman of the Senate health committee on Tuesday backed new federal regulations to remove roadblocks patients can face in obtaining copies of their electronic medical records.

The rules, proposed last month by the Department of Health and Human Services, take aim at so-called information blocking, in which tech companies or health systems limit the sharing or transfer of information from medical files.

Jonathan Lomurro, a medical malpractice attorney in New Jersey, said his clients usually have to go to court to get their complete medical record. The information that health care providers fight most bitterly to keep from them, he said, are the audit logs—or the data that show every time a record has been accessed or edited, and by whom and when.

That “metadata,” he and other plaintiff attorneys argue, is critical for patients to understand the history of their care, particularly in cases where something has gone wrong.

Seema Verma, who heads the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, agreed that patients should be entitled to audit log information. “At the end of the day, it’s all of the patient’s data. If it affects and touches their medical record, then that belongs to them,” Verma said in an interview last month.

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