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Can I get my Medical Records?

Legal Aspects · Jul 7, 2020

Seema Madhavan

Seema MadhavanCase Manager

According to federal legislation you have a legal right to obtain your medical records, whether they are kept electronically or on paper. This legislation is a part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) of 1996 as well as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) Act of 2009.

This federal law gives you important privacy rights and protections with respect to health information, including important controls over how health information is used and disclosed by health plans and health care providers.

Federal law does not allow your records to be withheld from you unless they include information that (1) the physician thinks will harm the physician-patient relationship, (2) are part of ongoing research, or (3) contain substance abuse or mental health information.

However, if you believe you have the right to records that you are being denied, you can file a complaint with the office of Civil Rights at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Results including x-rays and blood tests, and other information regarding how the diagnosis was established, are among the many types records you have the right to obtain.

Medical Records Retrieval Process

If you speak with an attorney and decide that obtaining your medical records is necessary, there are many ways of doing it. One way to obtain them is to go to the facility or practice and ask for a copy of them.

You can request a copy on behalf of someone, however, you must go through a special process and acquire specific permissions.

They should provide you with a HIPAA authorization form to fill out that allows you to obtain your medical records. This form includes basic information regarding your personal details and specifics concerning the types of records you are requesting.

You may have to pay to receive your records depending on the format you would like to receive them in, i.e. paper, fax, or electronic media.

Usually, the hospital will charge based on the number of pages. Once the form is submitted back to the facility, you may have to wait.

The waiting period is different based on the facility that you are obtaining your records from, however, the medical provider is legally required to provide the records within 30-60 days. The maximum waiting period varies among different states.

How do I get my Medical Records Faster?

If you are in contact with a facility that is completing your medical record request, speak to their office, either on the phone or in person, and ask if there is a way to receive your medical records faster. They may offer you an “express” option with a fee.

Otherwise, if you would like to receive your medical records quicker, here is some advice: Plan ahead and request the records ahead of time.

File your record request correctly the first time. Send requests to the proper location. Follow up on your requests, communication with the facility is key.

How to Obtain Medical Records Online

Some medical facilities, hospitals, and offices offer you an option to get your medical records online. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, retrieving medical records on an online platform or portal is on the rise.

Although it is key to note that most facilities offer you a physical copy, you can always inquire about retrieving your medical records online.

If the provider does offer you access to your records online, they will provide you with a step by step instruction on how to access your records on your computer or mobile device with a username and password.


(1) The privacy rule applies to generally all medical records except psychotherapy notes (any notes documented by a medical provider that has to do with the documentation of any counseling sessions). Psychotherapy notes do not include any information maintained in the medical records

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