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.

The 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.

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