You may need to obtain copies of your medical records for a number of reasons. If you are involved in a complaint by accident, medical records can be a key element in the case. For example, if you file a lawsuit after a car accident, you may have to prove that the accident – and no previous medical condition – caused their injuries. Or the extent of your injuries may be in dispute. In the claims for medical negligence, medical records are at the core of the matter. And sometimes patients only need their medical records to provide a specialist or a new doctor. Read on to learn about right to obtain medical records and how to get them.
Your right for medical records
HIPAA law for its acronym in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act gives patients the right to obtain a copy of their medical records from any health care provider, with some exceptions.
Who can get the records?
Under HIPAA, you can ask:
Your own medical records.
Records of another person if you are the designated representative. You may request medical records of another person if you give permission, in writing, to act as their representative and have access to the records. For example, if your parents and elders appointed you as their representative, health care providers must provide medical records of your parents if you make a request to obtain them.
Records of someone else if you are the legal guardian. Similarly, if you are designated as guardian of another adult, you have the legal right to obtain medical records of that person.
Medical records of their children, with some exceptions. For the most part, parents and guardians may obtain the medical records of their children. There are some exceptions to this rule. A parent can not obtain records of a child if:
- The child has given consent for medical care and parental consent is not required under state law
- The child receives health care mandate by a court, or
- The parent agrees that the child and health care provider have a confidential relationship.
Records of deceased persons in certain circumstances. If you are the personal representative of an estate – whether appointed by a person already dead or appointed by a court to settle the affairs of a deceased person – HIPAA gives you access to the medical records of the deceased person. In addition, if it is related to a deceased person and some information in the medical record of the person is related to their own health, HIPAA gives you access to that information.
Which records can be obtained?
HIPAA gives patients the right to obtain copies of all their medical records. Patients also have the right to see – usually in the offices of the healthcare provider – your original medical records.
HIPAA allows health care providers to retain certain types of medical records, including:
- Psychotherapy notes
- Information that the provider is gathering and compiling for claims and
- Medical information that the provider believes that it could jeopardize reasonably his life, physical integrity or the safety of another person.
In general, if provider denies your request for medical records, you must provide a letter of rejection. In some cases, you may appeal the denial.
When will you get requested medical records?
HIPAA requires healthcare providers to provide copies of medical records within 30 days of your request. If they need more than 30 days to comply with your request, the medical provider must give a reason for the delay.
Some states require a quick change. For example, in California, providers should allow patients to see their records within five days of the application and must provide copies of the records within fifteen days.