HIPAA Rights to Request Your Records

Did you know that you can get a copy of your medical records? I don’t know when I learned that this was a thing, but I do remember that this was something I started early on (but not soon enough).

The importance of having a copy of medical records

I was reminded recently of the importance of getting a copy of your medical records when I was reading a book. The author stated that a simple records request can be “transformative” in your medical care. And may even help save your life in some instances!

Shortly after my diagnosis, I was unhappy with the care I was receiving from the GI who diagnosed me. With the help of my boyfriend’s parents, I sought out a second opinion.

Before getting an appointment with the new GI, I requested my records from the GI who diagnosed me and within a few days, I had the records in my hands. I wish at the time that I’d also done this with my primary care doctor as I’m currently fighting to get my records from the clinic.

When is the best time to request medical records?

The best time to request records is shortly after a visit. You can learn a lot from your medical records.

Providing complete copies of your records, or even just records from key events in your medical history can be extremely helpful. Not just for you, but any of your doctors as well! The best way to get your records is shortly after your visit (and be sure to ask for any records from your subsequent visits also!).

Offices are required to release your medical records

Under federal privacy laws, it is your right as a US citizen to acquire a copy of your complete medical records... and that includes the doctor’s notes! In some instances, you may have to pay for the records after a certain period of time, but doctor’s offices are required to release your records to you.

Most doctors retain your records for up to ten years, but the length of time will vary from one state to another. If you move and start seeing a new doctor, your doctor can often make a request for your records. This may also come with a small fee.

What to do if you are unable to get your medical records

If you are still having trouble, you can appoint a family member or trusted friend to gather your records. It only takes a simple form that you need to fill out and sign. To obtain such a form, all you have to do is search the internet for your state’s HIPAA Medical Authorization Form and fill it out.

If you are still having trouble obtaining your medical records, you might file a complaint with Health and Human Services. I have just recently done this after all my other attempts failed in acquiring my medical records.

It was very simple and easy to understand and I was able to fill it out online! I don’t know how long it will take for my case to go through and get sorted out, but as I stated before, it is my right to obtain a copy of my records (with a few exceptions—which I do not appear to meet).

For more information about your rights as a patient, visit Your Rights Under HIPAA.

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