Medical Records

Should you ever decide that you need your medical records, you will
find that you should be familiar with your right. The first thing you
need to know about your medical records is that they are yours. Now, a
doctor’s office or hospital does have the obligation in most places to
provide you with copies only. That does not apply to records, such as
x-rays, in which copies are not possible. For the other records,
though, you are their legal owner. A doctor’s office cannot deny you a
request for a copy of your medical records.

That request does
not have to be filled immediately, however. An office should have a
written policy about the records releases. They must require proof of
identification to guarantee the confidentiality of your medical
records. In most cases, they have a maximum time frame, usually 30
days, within which to fill the records requests. You cannot demand a
copy sooner, though in emergencies they have the obligation to provide
the records immediately. Now few offices will need the entire 30 days,
but they do have the policy as a precaution. It is your job to make
sure that you request the records well before you need them.

office also can have its own policies about whether they will fax or
mail the records. You must be able to accommodate their requirements in
this case or ask if there is an alternate. As with most items of a
sensitive nature, the records staff members are more likely to help you
in extreme circumstances if you approach them asking for understanding.
While the records do belong to you, a pleasant demeanor will help you
to get the records in a timely fashion. Should you come to an impasse
about getting your records, one option is to consult the medical review
board in the state of the office or to go through an attorney, but
these measures should be undertaken only in dire situations.