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How to Get Medical Records

If you need access to your medical information, you will have to follow procedure to avoid delays.


  • Step 1: Read information Contact your care provider for information about how to obtain copies of your medical records. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act permits access, and most offices provide a release form to request medical records.
  • Step 2: Follow guidelines Follow state guidelines to request authorization for your records or those of someone deceased, which may have to be transferred from several sources. Doctors will not include the pharmacist's log, nor will a hospital provide more than third-party reports.
  • Step 3: Get the records Pick up the records at the office. You may be charged a fee for such records as a medical summary. HIPAA allows charges for copying and postage, but does not permit offices to assess fees for locating records.
  • Step 4: Make request in writing Make a request in writing for yourself or someone deceased, naming the care provider or facility, and including a medical identification number. Give a complete name, social security number, date of birth, and patient number, if known.
  • Step 5: Identify the purpose Identify the purpose of the letter and date of treatment. Specify the records requested, such as physician's and nurse's notes, test results, prescription records, lab tests, and consultations with other physicians.
  • TIP: If denied access, file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights, and with state regulators, to have your materials released.
  • Step 6: Require promptness Require the information in 30 days or a letter stipulating the reason for delay and a date for fulfillment of the request.
  • FACT: Between 2004 and 2006, safety incidents cost the federal Medicare program more than $8 billion for more than 230,000 potentially preventable deaths.

You Will Need

  • Care provider
  • Legal guidelines
  • Written request
  • Medical identification number
  • Personal information
  • Persistence
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights (optional)

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