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How to Request Medical Records – July 30, 2009

Obtaining copies of your medical records when you visit a doctor for any type of medical problem is often a responsible and smart thing for a patient to do. Correcting errors immediately can eliminate the errors from adversely affecting any future diagnosis or treatments.  Medial records can also help you determine if your health care was properly administered. Federal Law provides you the right to obtain copies of most medical records including lab reports, doctor’s notes, medical tests results, and any billing information if they are requested properly.

The Health Information Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) covers privacy and access to medical records. As with many federal laws, the rules can be so extensive that confusion results in applying them. This can result in making it sometimes difficult to get records even if you are entitled to them.

In general, you must be the patient, parent or guardian, or a caregiver with written permission from the patient if you wish to seek records. Providers are required to keep most medical records for adults for six years or more depending on the state. Children’s records are kept for between three and ten years after the child turns 18 or 21, depending on local law. Make sure to request them from the right provider, for example, hospital records need to be requested from that facility and lab or test results need to be requested from the doctor who ordered them.

Most health care providers and facilities will have a form you will need to fill out to request records. Sinply call the provider and ask for one. If a form does not exist, you can request them by letter. You should include in that letter the following information:

1. Name, including your maiden name if applicable,

2. Social Security number

3. Birth date

4 Address, phone number, email and other contact information

5 The records being requested

6 The month and years you were under the provider’s care

7 Your signature

8. How you would like them delivered

Expect to pay a reasonable fee to cover the provider’s costs in retrieving, copying and sending the records. If you cannot afford to pay for records, there are allowances in the law for this. If you are persuing a legal matter requiring medical information, your lawyer is experienced in handling any medical record requests for you. Feel free to contact Padberg and Corrigan with questions or assistance.


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