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Consent for Release of Medical Information
Nov 18, 1997

Our company was just sold, and the new company is requiring all existing employees to sign the following release document: "I hereby agree that the *NEW COMPANY*, or any insurance company, agent, bureau, service or party acting in its behalf has my authority to obtain copies of records regarding my medical condition, treatment, and any related matter in respect of any matter on file with any attending physician, or other health care provider regarding care for a work related injury occurring during my employment with the *NEW COMPANY*. Upon presentation of the original or a photocopy hereof, any third party shall be entitled to rely upon same for all purposes and deliver to the *NEW COMPANY*, or its designee, all information in its files in respect of my medical records of the undersigned." My question: isn't this unlawful to ask someone to sign such a statement? Aren't medical records supposed to be kept confidential from an employer so as to protect employees from discrimination, specifically if an existing employee has HIV/AIDS or some other chronic medical condition? I'm not signing until I hear your advice! Thanks for your help.

Response from Ms. Breuer

No, the Company's request on its face does not appear to be illegal. The employer is requesting that you sign a release of information for medical records that are "for a work related injury occurring during your time of employment with the [employer]." The employer seeks to obtain a release from you now, so that if you are injured on the job, they can access your medical records for insurance and liability reasons. The release does not apply to your general medical records or to records relating to your HIV condition. The language of the release makes it clear that the employer is only entitled to medical records that relate to a work-related injury. Accordingly, if you are ever injured on the job, you should instruct your treating doctor to exclude all records relating to your HIV status from any records that are forwarded to your employer.

David Grunwald, Esq.,

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