Under federal and New York state law, patients have a right to obtain copies of their medical records from any healthcare provider or hospital. They cannot deny a request or charge an exorbitant fee.
Providers may require patients to complete a release form or access their records through patient portals. However, providers cannot impose unreasonable barriers to access or delay the process.
Contact the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services
Whether they’re stored electronically or on paper, medical records contain information about your health history and are critical to your ongoing care. The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives you the right to request copies of these records, but it can take some time to get them.
You may be asked to fill out a form, either in person or online, and you’ll likely have to pay a fee. Depending on state and provider policies, it can take 30 to 60 days for your healthcare provider to provide you with the copy of your record, although some states have shorter timelines.
Many people don’t know how to access their medical records, especially when their doctor’s office closes. Fortunately, there are ways to make the process easier. The Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services recommends individuals ask their doctor’s office about how to get a copy of their records and make the request as soon as possible.
Contact the Office of the Attorney General
There are a few ways to request your medical records. You can ask your physician directly, or you can contact the health department in your state. There are also non-profit organizations that provide support for patients and may be able to help with your issue.
Under New York law, hospitals and healthcare providers must keep your medical records for a minimum of six years. These records include physician notes, lab test results, and billing information. They can be accessed by you, your family, or other caregivers. Healthcare providers can charge for the copies of the documents, but they cannot deny you access or charge you an exorbitant fee.
If you are requesting the medical records of someone who is deceased, the process is slightly different. The person requesting the records must be an executor of the estate or have legal permission from the deceased. In some cases, the hospital or healthcare provider will withhold access to certain records. These include psychotherapy notes and information that could endanger another person’s health, safety, or legal privacy.
Contact the Office of the Secretary of Defense
Longstanding state and federal laws give patients the right to request copies of their medical records from their healthcare providers. Many of these providers also make their records available through patient portals, a secure online tool that makes the process easier and more straightforward.
Most people who need to obtain a copy of their medical records start by calling the doctor’s office and asking how to get access. The receptionist will point them in the right direction, whether that’s telling them to write a letter requesting the information, providing them with a form to sign, or helping them set up their patient portal.
Third parties such as a parent, spouse or adult child, legal guardian, caregiver, patient advocate or attorney can also request medical records on behalf of someone else. However, those individuals must have the proper documentation to prove that they’re legally able to do so. In addition, they must be approved to receive the information by the person whose records are being requested.
Contact the Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
If you’ve been treated in a hospital, clinic, or private physician office and are trying to get your medical records, there are several steps you can take. First, check with the provider and see if they have what’s called a patient portal. This way, you can log in to view your test results and doctor visit summaries. You can also send your doctor a message through the portal to make an appointment or ask questions about your condition.
Usually, providers are required to keep adult patient records for seven years after they last contact with the individual. However, if they decide to destroy those records, the provider must provide the patient with notice and an explanation of the reason for this decision.
If you’re a healthcare facility or doctor’s office that needs to retain patient records for a certain period of time, consider hiring a custodian of medical records company. These companies help doctors and staff manage medical records without having to worry about the legal implications.