1. What is the procedure for the City Attorney, District Attorney, or other law enforcement agency to request medical records?
The City Attorney, District Attorney, or other law enforcement agency may request medical records by serving a subpoena in-person or by mail, fax, or e-mail. All criminal subpoenas must include the Penal Code Section or the HIPAA provisions with which the requesting agency is complying. When a subpoena is received, no medical information on an LAFD patient will be released prior to expiration of that patient's opportunity to object without a letter (on letterhead from that patient's attorney, if represented) that the patient will not object to the release of his or her records. In the absence of a subpoena, court order, or warrant, a City Attorney, District Attorney, or other law enforcement agency must submit a completed Authorization For Release of Protected Health Information form and all required supporting documentation. A law enforcement agency may choose to submit a completed Law Enforcement Request for Protected Health Information in-lieu of the Authorization For Release of Protected Health Information form. Contact the EMS Records Unit at (213) 978-3648 or via e-mail at LAFD.EMSRecords@lacity.org for more information.
2. May the City Attorney, District Attorney, or law enforcement use their own authorization?
It is requested that agencies use the LAFD’s Authorization For Release of Protected Health Information form, or the Law Enforcement Request for Protected Health Information form, for ease of processing.
3. Is the authorization required in all circumstances, including an official investigation or for trial?
LAFD is a covered entity under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and subject to its Privacy Rules (see 45 CFR § 164.512 (f)). These rules establish strict requirements that must be met before protected health information (PHI) may be disclosed. An authorization is not required in all circumstances. However, a request for medical records must be in writing and clearly articulate the HIPAA provisions that the requestor is complying with or the HIPAA section that exempts them from having to provide a patient authorization. Whether the case is in trial or not, law enforcement are bound by HIPAA rules.
4. I am an investigator with the Department of Public Health. How do I obtain a copy of the patient’s protected health information(PHI)?
Please review the HIPAA 45 CFR § 164.512 for permitted uses and disclosures for government agencies, social services and public health authorities. If you are permitted by HIPAA, submit your request in your Department Letterhead addressed to the LAFD EMS Records Unit at 200 North Main Street, Room 1660, Los Angeles, CA 90012 explaining the nature of your request. Cite the HIPAA provisions, state or federal codes applicable to your purpose and provide patient information, i.e., name, date of birth, incident date and location. Please sign the letterhead and submit a copy of your work ID with a picture. Submit the letterhead via email to email@example.com.