Getting medical records

BefrizzledBefrizzled Registered Users Posts: 3,854
I've been having trouble with a doctor's office not answering other doctors' requests for my record. It's getting ridiculous. I'll be in town next week, and I want to go get them personally. I need another doctor to have them ASAP, and this practice isn't helping.

What are my rights, and what are their rights? I was thinking I'd call them Monday and tell them to have the records ready for pickup Wednesday at opening. I could sign releases by fax ahead of time or when I get there. Is there anything I'm missing?
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  • ninja dogninja dog Registered Users Posts: 23,780 Curl Neophyte
    I would Google "patients' medical rights" or "patients' medical records rights" and see what you find.

    Good luck, BF!
  • PriscillaPriscilla Registered Users Posts: 278 Curl Neophyte
    Don't know what the legal rights are, but often if doctors' offices have to xerox your whole file / a lot of pages, etc. they may try to charge you money for the time and effort. (like .50 a page or something), and they say you have to put the request in writing and allow so much time for them to do it, etc.

    If it's just a few pages or the record from the last visit or two, they usually provide it for free.

    I've gotten into the habit of everytime I go to a doctor, I ask for my own copy of the test results, notes, etc. So it's not an issue later.

    Good Luck.
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  • BefrizzledBefrizzled Registered Users Posts: 3,854
    I'm doing that simultaneously, ninja. Thanks. :)

    Priscilla, I'm not sure how lengthy it is. It contains a battery of tests back to my early teens, but then again, I didn't go to these guys very often. I tried to have them fax information three times now; I filled out forms at the other offices that they faxed/called about. This office isn't known for helpfulness. It took me a week to get results that were in right away because they kept saying they'd call the hospital ... and never did. I'm tired of giving them time, you know? I'll spend the weekend researching, then give them a call Monday. If they can manage to fax the stuff by Wednesday, I won't show up in a fit.
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  • curlysue21curlysue21 Registered Users Posts: 5,219
    I worked at a chiropractor but their rules I believe are the same as any doctor. You have every right to your own records. If they are lengthy, I think its a good idea to call ahead. I don't think you would need to sign a release on them. There should be no reason why they would withhold anything from you. The office is probably just being lazy about it.
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  • curlypearlcurlypearl Registered Users Posts: 12,231 Curl Connoisseur
    Befrizzled, you are legally entitled to get copies of your medical records. They are YOUR records. If the dr's office isn't cooperating they can be sanctioned by the county medical board which they definitely don't want.

    First, in future, take Priscilla's tip and get in the habit of requesting a copy of your record whenever you have an exam, or whatever. Type a note requesting it with your name/address and hand it to the office staff at the start of the visit. If you have to fill out forms, attach it to the forms with a paper clip which you bring with you. Also tell them. This is a case where the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    Definitely call them Monday a.m. and be firm, and then call back Tuesday to confirm. I am notoriously unassertive, but in this case, I'd be out of character.

    My dad was a dr. and my mom. a nurse and everyone (except me) in my family is in the medical profession. You are entitled to those records! Call them and tell them your dr. is insisting that you must have them. If you don't get a good response, see if your doctor's office (the one's who need the reports) will intercede for you. Good luck and let us know what happens.
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  • NalliaNallia Registered Users Posts: 2,979
    I have always had to sign a release for my medical records, even those that were for me, but I know that depends on the doctor's office.

    Here are your rights per HIPAA:
    6. More About Your Right to Access Your Medical Records Your ability to see your own medical records is probably the single most important right you have under HIPAA. Before HIPAA, your right to see or copy your medical records often depended on your state laws. Now, HIPAA sets the national standard, or ìfloor,î meaning that states can give you greater rights to access your medical information, but state laws cannot take away the fundamental access rights you have under HIPAA.
    Does HIPAA allow me to get my original records?
    No. HIPAA only gives you the right to get copies of your records. Or, if you choose, you can ask to see your medical records or ask for a summary of your medical file.
    Do I have to submit a written request for my medical records?
    HIPAA does not require a written request. However, if your provider requires a written request, you must be given notice of this. Some providers may have a form specifically for this purpose. Or, the provider's privacy policy should tell you how to request your medical records.
    Even if your doctor does not require a written request, it is always a good idea to put your request in writing. That way, you have a record of important details such as when you filed your request and the record you requested. For a sample letter to request a copy of your medical records, see
    When will I get my records?
    Usually, you should get your copies within 30 days of the request. Under HIPAA, if the process takes more than 30 days, you must be given a reason. Your state law may give you the right to receive your records more quickly. In California, for example, you should be able to see your medical records within 5 days and get a copy within 15 days. For more on your rights to access under state laws, see
    Do I have to pay for copies of my medical records?
    Probably, yes. HIPAA says you can be charged a "reasonable, cost-based fee." This means you can be charged for supplies and staff time for copying your records. You can also be charged for mailing records, if mailing is what you request. But, you should not be charged for time spent searching for your records. Nor, should a provider have a policy of charging all patients a flat fee.
    Do I have to pay for a summary of my medical file?
    Yes, but you must agree to the fee in advance.
    Can I be denied access to my medical records?
    Yes, in a few circumstances. For example, you cannot access psychotherapy notes or information compiled for lawsuits. Your request can also be denied if the provider decides the information you want could reasonably endanger your life, your physical safety or that of another person. A written denial letter is usually required. In some cases, you can appeal a denial. If so, you should be given instructions on how to appeal in the written denial.
    Does HIPAA say medical records must be kept for a certain time?
    HIPAA does not include a record retention period. It does, however, allow you to request an accounting or report of who has accessed your records. This covers the six years prior to the date you request the accounting.
    Although HIPAA does not require that medical records be kept for a set time, many states have such laws. To find out what your state has to say about retention of medical records, see the following American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) publication:
    How do I correct inaccurate information in my medical records?
    You can ask for a correction of inaccurate information. You should make your request in writing. You should receive a written answer within 60 days. If your correction request is denied, you can note your disagreement in your file.

    There is more here:
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  • BefrizzledBefrizzled Registered Users Posts: 3,854
    Thanks so much for the info, everyone. SO's mom sent me some good links, too. I just need these a lot quicker than 30 days, but since the earliest request was made weeks ago, I might be able to hold them against the wall a little.

    Curlypearl, I am no longer concerned with being polite. I'll be as assertive as I need to be to get my records. Before, I didn't want to sever relationship with this office, but now, I just don't care.

    And I will definitely start asking for my own copies of things. My new primary care doctor hands me copies automatically. I'm not used to a doctor being so open. I'm so grateful there's excellent medical care here. And even more so because the new doctors confirm my thoughts that my old doctors weren't handling things well.
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