Accessing your medical records: rights, procedures, and denials

For a variety of reasons, you may need to obtain copies of your medical records. Medical records could be crucial in a personal injury case. If you are suing for personal injury after a car accident, it may be necessary to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident and not a pre-existing condition. You may also be able to dispute the extent of your injuries. The plaintiff’s medical records are often the most important aspect of medical malpractice cases. Patients may need to access their medical records for other reasons than the legal system. Learn more about how you can get your medical records.

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You have the right to medical records

Patients have the right to request a copy their medical records from any provider under the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act.

Who may be the next to get records?

  • HIPAA allows you to request:
  • Your medical records.

If you are the designated representative, you can request records from someone else. If they have given you written permission to act as their representative, you can request the medical records of another person. If your parents are elderly, you can request their medical records. However, you must be able to access the records from your parents if they have not authorized you to do so.

If you are the legal guardian of another adult, you have the right to access their records. If you are appointed the legal guardian for another adult, you have legal rights to access that person’s medical records.

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With some exceptions, your children’s medical records. Parents and legal guardians are able to obtain the medical records of their children for most cases. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If:

  • The child has consented for medical care. Parental consent is not required by state law.
  • The court directs the child to receive medical care.
  • The parent agrees to keep the relationship between the minor and the doctor confidential.

In certain cases, records of deceased people may be available. HIPAA allows you to access the medical records of the deceased if you are the personal representative (either named by a will, or appointed by the court to settle the estate of a deceased person). HIPAA also allows you to access information in the medical files of deceased persons if you are related.

What records can you get?

Patients have the right to obtain copies of all their medical records under HIPAA. Patients can also view their original medical records, usually at the offices of the provider.

  • HIPAA allows health care providers to withhold certain medical records.
  • Psychotherapy notes
  • Information that the provider collects and compiles for lawsuits

The provider may request medical information that could reasonably endanger your safety or life.

If the provider refuses to provide medical records, it will usually send you a denial letter. You may have the right to appeal the denial in some instances.

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When will you get the requested medical records?

HIPAA demands that medical providers provide medical records copies within 30 days of your request. The medical provider must explain why it may take longer than 30 days to fulfill your request.

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Some states require a quicker turnaround. California is one example. Providers must give patients access to their records within five business days. They must also provide copies within fifteen days.