How to Access a Copy of your Medical Records for your Personal Injury Case
Medical records play a vital role in any personal injury case. Regardless if you were injured as the result of a car accident, medical error, slip and fall accident, or any other type of accident, your medical records are essential for proving what your exact injuries were and what medical treatment you required. But how do you get copies of your medical records?
How to Get Medical Records
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), all patients are legally entitled to access to their medical records. You can either request a copy of your records or see the original version of your records. To request a copy of your medical records, contact the doctor’s office or hospital to find out how to get a record release form. Some places make release forms available to download on their website, but others will either mail the form to you or ask you to pick it up in person.
While you’re talking to someone at your medical care provider’s office, be sure to also ask where exactly you should send your request. Some facilities have special departments dedicated to handling record requests or outsource patient record storage to an outside company, so it’s best to ask where to direct your request so you can get your records as quickly as possible.
In addition to submitting your release form, you’ll need to include a written request for your records. Your written request should include information like your name, address, phone number, birth date, social security number, and email address. If you know your patient or medical record number, include that, too. Be sure to specify which records you need copies of or if you’d like to see your original records. You’re allowed to request all medical records a healthcare professional has for you, or you can just request records from a certain point in time. You’re also able to request virtually any specific type of medical record, like past prescriptions, X-rays, MRI results, lab results, vaccination history, and billing history, just to name a few.
Did your injury require care from a specialist in addition to the main doctor you were working with? If you request a copy of your records from your main doctor, you should also receive copies of everything they received from the specialist. However, it’s best to make a separate request for records from the specialist. Sometimes, specialists don’t pass on all the information they have on a patient, so requesting your records from the specialist will help you make sure you get all the records you need.
HIPAA requires health care providers to provide patients with copies of their records within 30 days of receiving a request. If they are not able to fulfill your request in that time, they’ll have to provide you with a reason. Note that health care professionals are allowed to charge some reasonable fees for copies of medical records, such as clerical and copying fees.
Can I Request Medical Records on Behalf of Someone Else?
In some situations, certain people are able to request copies of medical records on behalf of someone else. You can request someone else’s medical records if you are the person’s legal guardian or an official representative for that person, such as if you have power of attorney or are a personal injury lawyer representing an injured person. Parents are generally able to request their child’s medical records, unless the child got medical treatment under a court order or if state law does not require parental consent for medical treatment. If the person you’re requesting records for is deceased, medical records can be requested by an attorney or other designated executor of their estate.
Can My Request be Denied?
There are a few circumstances where a health care professional is allowed to deny a request for copies of medical records. They can refuse to provide copies of records if they have good reason to believe the information would put a person’s health or safety in danger, if it would violate a confidentiality agreement, or if the information was gathered specifically for a lawsuit.
If your request for copies of your medical records has been denied or you didn’t receive all the information you requested, talk to a personal injury lawyer. In many cases, incomplete records are the result of simple clerical errors. But if you’re collecting records for a medical malpractice case, some healthcare facilities don’t want to cooperate with requests for patient records. If this is the case, a lawyer will help you figure out which steps to take next.