Your medical records, or “medical charts” or “health record” is simply a documented history of your treatments and health. You may want this information for any number of reasons, but regardless of why, it is your health. You should exercise your right to see your medical record if you wish.
You may experience some resistance when requesting your medical records, but you are well within your legal rights to ask for them. You have the right to receive copies of your health records, within 30 days of making a valid request. The Privacy Rule of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act entitles all patients to have access to their medical records.
The first step is to call your healthcare provider and ask for the procedure to request your medical records. They should know exactly what you are talking about. They may have a preferred form to use. If they request a letter, make sure that all of the information they request is included in the form letter. The provider may request additional verification for the request. This is done for your protection. Note that parents have a right to their children’s medical records, but parents without legal custody, step parents and other unauthorized family members may not have access to medical records. This includes spouses without proper authorization.
Keep in mind that a healthcare provider cannot deny you access to your medical records because you have an outstanding unpaid balance. Also, the healthcare provider cannot charge a fee for searching and retrieving your records, but they may charge reasonable costs for copying and mailing your records. See this state specific resource to determine if your state has additional regulations for medical record requests.
Note that there are a few things you will not be able to see on your medical records. These include psychotherapy notes and notes that the healthcare providers think may endanger the physical safety of the patient or another person. If there are notes that were not included in your medical record that you believe should be there, please consult with a professional.
You can change your medical records if you do not agree with what you see. Submit a request in writing clearly explaining the requested change. Your healthcare provider must respond to the request. If the healthcare provider does not agree to the change, you may submit a statement of disagreement that is filed with the appropriate part of your medical record.
You may not necessarily need an attorney for your situation. Check out the miVoyce patient advocacy community that I helped co-found to educate and empower you on how to save on healthcare (rather than hiring an attorney!)