How do I get a copy of my medical records?
Federal law guarantees you the right to get a copy of your medical records. Doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes will tell you that your records are confidential but you can authorize the healthcare provider to give you a copy for yourself or to send to someone you approve (inlcuding another doctor).
First, you will need to sign a written consent form that contains at least the following:
- What information you want copied;
- Why you want it; and.
- The person you want to get the copy.
Once you have signed the form and given it to the medical provider, Federal law requires a health care provider to provide the records to you within 30 days, or give you a reason why they cannot. Certain states have laws that shorten this time. For example, in Texas a doctor has 15 days to provide you a copy of your records. In California, you can see your records in 5 days, and get a copy in 15 days. If you have a question about the laws in your state, you can go to http://hpi.georgetown.edu/privacy/records.html and click on your state to see the applicable laws.
It is often a good idea to make your request in writing and keep a copy for yourself. That way you know when you asked for the records and when you should have your copy. If you anticipate any problem, you can always send the request certified mail, return receipt requested. That way you can prove what date you sent the request and what date it was received.
Posted in: Medical Malpractice FAQ