How To Access Medical Records in 5 Steps

There’s a variety of reasons why you might need to access your past medical records. Medical records are sometimes needed by new doctors or specialists. You might want copies of these records for yourself as well for your own reasons.

Everyone’s situation is different, but what’s certain is that you do have rights that permit access to these records. Knowing how to access medical records without error is essential for those who multiple records from different doctors or facilities.

You don’t want to find yourself stuck in a frustrating situation where you’re being lead in circles trying to get your records. Instead, use these tips below to ensure you get your records from anywhere without trouble.

Here’s what you need to know!

1. Know Your Qualifications

First, you must be sure that you’re qualified to access certain records. If it’s your own records that you’re trying to access, then you’re qualified to receive them. If it’s someone else’s records, then you might stumble across a few problems.

Even if you’re wanting access to a spouse or child’s records, there might be some hurdles to get through. Medical records aren’t always available to a parent or spouse. You’ll most likely need a written authorization signed by the person whose records you want access to.

Do keep in mind that although you have the right to access your own medical records, you might not have the right to view doctor’s notes regarding the records and certain types of records. It’s best to look into your state’s laws regarding the type of medical records you’re trying to access.

2. Prepare All Documents 

Your records won’t be handed over to you simply because you requested them. There is a process that you must follow and is set in place only for your own protection.

First, you’ll most likely need to fill out an authorization form, so be sure to ask for this form and fill it out. The information needed on this form varies depending on who you’re getting the records from, but you can expect to answer a few personal questions that prove you are who you are.

The form should be filled out completely and in some cases can be completed online. You’ll also need a photo ID when you arrive to pick up your records or when you ask for them in person.

3. Pay Your Fees 

Some doctor offices or hospitals might charge you a few for copies of your records. Ask about possible fees before you have the copies made and prepare to pay them. The way most places charge is by page.

The fee should only be a few cents per page, which doesn’t seem like much but if you need several pages, it can add up quickly. Check with your state to determine how much these places are allowed to charge you.

In most cases, the Department of Health in your state will have the answer for you. If they charge per page for printing, you can always ask them about sending your records via email, if possible.

4. Know What Records You Need

It’s also a good idea to know exactly what you need before you request your records. You most likely have more medical records than you know. What records are you requesting and how would you like to receive them.

The medical terminology isn’t always the easiest to understand, so look into what exactly it is you need before calling them in.

Do you need a list of medications?

Do you need information and details about a past surgery?

Do you need past test results?

The term, “medical records” is broad, and knowing exactly what you need can save you from paying for records that you don’t need. Once you know which specific records you need, you should then decide how you want to receive them.

Most places can send records via email, in the mail, digitally via a USB, directly to another doctor’s office or hospital, or in-person with paper copies. You should also note that it may take some time before you have these records in hand.

According to these tips on retrieving medical records, it may even take 30 days before you receive your records. If you need your records soon, then start the process right now.

5. Know Your Rights

The last step is to know your rights. Knowing your rights with HIPAA is essential when requesting your records. HIPAA gives you the right to access your medical records and keep them private as well.

If you’re denied access to your records, then know that this is against the law, and you might need to hire an attorney to help you gain access to these records and exercise your rights. Your attorney will be able to help guide you through the process and tackle any hassles you might come across.

Also, keep in mind that although these places are able to charge you a fee for copies of your records, they can’t charge you for searching for the records.

Learn How to Access Medical Records With Ease!

Your medical records are your property. No matter what the reason is why you need your medical records, they are yours to have if desired.

Remember that all states or hospitals and doctor offices might have their own rules for how the records are given, but the right to access them is yours no matter what state you’re in.

Use these helpful tips listed above to ensure you know how to access medical records with as much ease as possible.

For more informational posts, check back with us on a regular basis!


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