Release of Records


For any request consumer records release that would not be for administrative  purposes or requirements of statute, the following sections of this policy are to be complied with. Two general areas are covered: (1) access by a consumer to their own records, and (2) access to consumer records by persons other than the consumer.


This includes access to a person’s own consumer record, releases of minor’s record to his/her parents, and a ward’s record to his/her legal guardian.

I. Nature of Release-the most common form of release is by review of the consumer record rather than duplication of the record. 

2. Request for Release-the consumer or other requestor must supply the following in writing to be filed in the consumer’s record:

a. Requestor’s name and address
b. Name of consumer, if requestor is other than the consumer (applicable only to a guardian or parent of a Minor)
c. Types of information  to be released,  i.e. “case  record concerning my eligibility for TANF in 2008”
d. Date of the request
e. Signature of the requesting party

3. Location of the Release:

a. If the person requesting the release lives in or near Fort Totten, a review should be done in the office and project employee should be present.
b. If mailing is required, the information to be released must be duplicated and the copy sent certified mail. Reasonable fees for the costs of duplication may be assessed to the requesting party;
c. The information released, whether mailed or reviewed in the office, must include only information concerning the requestor and/or minor children or ward in his or her legal custody.

4. Documentation of the Release-the following information regarding the release must be put in writing and filed in the consumer’s record.

a. The date and time of the release
b. The type(s) of information reviewed or duplicated
c. The name and address of the party to whom information was released
d. The signature and title of SLVR representative who supervised the release.

5. Records Containing Information on More than One Family-the requesting release of consumer records concerning other adults in their family should follow procedures outlined in section titled “Releases To Other Persons”, unless a legal guardianship has been established.

6. Exceptions:

a. Release of medical and psychological records may be restricted in accordance with guidelines addressed.
b. The identity of persons reporting abuse, neglect, or fraud will not be released.
c. If parent’s rights have been terminated and the child is under the legal custody of the Tribe or other legal jurisdiction, a responsible representative must determine whether to allow the parent to have access to the child’s records.
d. If parents are divorced, the parent having legal custody must give authorization for the other parent to have access. Joint custody would allow access by either parent.


This includes access to client records by persons other than the client, if not provided for in above section as a routine release.  These must be done in writing.

1. Nature of Release– the most common form of release is by the review of the requestor rather than a duplication of the record.

2. Request for Release– a request for release must be made in writing to be filed in the consumer’s record and shall include:

a. The name of the person requesting the information
b. The organization (if any) with which the person is associated
c. The requestor or organization’s address
d. The name(s) of the client(s) about whom information is being requested;
e. Types of information to be released
f. The purpose for which the information will be used
g. The date of the request and the signature of the requestor.

3. Consumer Approval for the Release:

a. Approval by the consumer is necessary for the release of that person’s confidential information
b. The consumer must be aware of the specific information sought by the requestor in subsection, two above
c. Whenever possible, the consumer should sign a release of information form directed to the requestor and filed in the consumer record. If the consumer prefers giving verbal authorization, it should be documented that the contents of the request for information was provided to the consumer, and the date the approval was given. The representative should then date and record this documentation in the case notes of the consumer.

4. Documentation of Release: The following information regarding the release must be put in writing and filed in the consumer record:

a. The date and time information was released
b. The type(s) of information reviewed or duplicated
c. The name and address of the party to whom information was released
d. The initials of the project representative who supervised the release.

5. Release of Medical Records:  release of medical records may be restricted as provided for in “Medical and Psychological Record”

6. Release for Authorized Purposes Only– the project representative will inform any party who is granted access to a consumer record that the release was authorized only for the purposes that the requestor specified.


Reports from physicians, psychiatrists, development specialists, or other health professionals may require special treatment. Such records fall into two types:

(1) Those which are the “property” of the professional who provided the report

(2) Those which are the “property” of the project

1. Records Property of Health Professional:  Those medical and psychological records which were created for the consumer apart from the consumer’s involvement with the project are to be considered property of the health professional who created the record. The project may not release those records to any party without the consent of the health professional or agency making the report. The requesting party shall gain access to these records through the health professional or agency that created the original information. Such project information may be released to parties that have functions such as medical consultants

2.  Records Property of the Project:  Any medical or psychological records provided to the Project (voluntarily or under contract) and created for the purpose of providing services or assistance by the project is the property of the project.  Release of this information does not require a release from the initiating health professional.  The health professional that created the information for the project should be advised of this policy by the project prior to the provision of the reports. The project will treat these reports in the same manner as it treats information created by the department staff.  The health professional that created the report for the Project must obtain a release from the Project in order to release the information to any other party.

3. Consideration: If there are doubts regarding the extent of the consumer’s knowledge of his/her medical or psychological records and such information may be damaging to the consumer. The following steps should be followed when releasing the record to the consumer:

a. Inform the consumer that certain medical or psychological records have been removed from the record
b. Request the consumer to sign a release of information form directed to a responsible health professional of his/her choice who has similar standing to the author of the reports (cannot be a relative of the consumer)
c. Inform the consumer that he/she can make an appointment with the health professional to discuss the records
d. Release the information to the chosen health professional for review with the consumer


1. Release with Consumer Approval: if the consumer approves a release to a specific party, the record can be reviewed or released in the same manner as if the consumer were accessing the record himself.  The consumer may limit the information that is released.  If information concerning other family members is present, a release from each individual must be given or the information must be removed from the record prior to review.

2. Release Without Consumer Approval:  When there is an immediate need for information, such as for a life saving purpose, the department policy is to release the information without consumer approval. Releases without prior authorization should be avoided, if possible, and approved by Project Director.

3. Court Orders and Subpoenas:  If a court subpoenas a consumer record and the consumer either has not approved the release or objects to the release, a letter should be written to the court stating the following:

a. This project has been unable to reach (the consumer’s name) to authorize the release of this information (or) (the consumer’s name) objects to the release of this information.
b. A representative of the project, (representative’s name) will deliver the records to the court on the date specified by the subpoena or court order and will ask permission to be present during all reviews or duplication of the records. Any information or records copied should be noted in the consumer’s record. When a court order or subpoena would cause the release by the state of confidential Social Security Information, the court should be advised of the pertinent provisions of the 1974 Privacy Act, Public Law 93-579, and the Social Security regulations. 

4. Access to Deceased Consumer Records:  access to consumer records concerning deceased person is only done upon written request.  The written request must contain the same information by the Project Director prior to granting release.  Documentation of release will be made in case record.


Releases of computerized records are to be treated in the same manner as the release of any other records in the department.  When a consumer or legal guardian requests access to computer records maintained by the project, the Project Director must review a copy of the request.  The types of records requested, i.e., TANF records, Medicaid records, social service records, and the purpose must be specified. Upon approval, copies of the records may be sent either directly to the consumer or to the Project representative for review and clarification with the consumer prior to release. The consumer or legal guardian may assess a reasonable fee for duplication.


Statistical and research activities do not often require information in a format that identifies individuals.  The project, whenever possible, will release information for statistical or research purposes only in a form of aggregate or individual data that cannot be associated with a particular consumer.  When there are requests for confidential consumer information for research purposes by individuals who are not employed or contracted by the project, the determination to release can only be made by the Project Director and will require the following:

1. The requestor needs the information in an identifiable form and will use information only for that purpose, protecting clients from unreasonable and unwanted contact

2. The research is designed to increase knowledge about issues considered valuable to the Project or the Project’s  consumers

3. Assurances that the researcher will keep the information as statistical records, follow the appropriate safeguards, and will not release the information without the project’s consent.  The researcher will destroy or return the information when the research purpose has been served.