Medical records are compiled by combining all the notes taken each time you visit a doctor, get an injection or give some blood for testing. You might need to access these records to get some specific information like your immunization record which is usually required by employers and colleges. It proves helpful to know how to get your medical records in such cases, while knowing what information is present in them is also helpful once you take charge of your medical care.
What’s in Your Medical Records?
Every doctor you visit and every therapist you go to will have his own file with your name on it, entailing the record of each of your medical visits with information like your condition and the treatment administered present in it.
Each note that the doctor takes and the answer to every question that you give would be present in these records. From basic information like your name and age to information like the tests the doctor prescribed, the test reports, the prescribed medications and the treatment that the doctor or physician gave you would all be present in your medical records. Apart from physical health, mental health care treatments are also recorded. Therefore, your visits to a therapist after you saw someone die or when your parents were taking divorce would also be a part of your medical records.
How to Get Your Medical Records
There is a set procedure for getting access to your medical records from your doctor or hospital. The process can seem a bit complicated at first though after knowing the steps involved, you won’t have any problems in getting your records.
1. Fill out an Authorization Form
The authorization form is a legal requirement for accessing your medical records. You can get the authorization form from the Health Information Services department or by contacting the administrative staff of your hospital as most big hospitals offering these forms online. In case you want your records to be sent to a different physician, you would also need to give the hospital the full name, e-mail id and address of the physician.
2. Choose Your Records
With the records being very lengthy, knowing the specific portions of the record you want released is important. If you do not know exactly which records you need to access in order to get specific information, contacting the health information management department of the hospital should help as any of their HIM professionals would help you in selecting the records you need.
3. Select a Format
With most hospitals and clinics now using a computer-based record system, it is possible that the hospital would provide you the medical records on a DVD, USB or send them to you via mail. Regardless of whether you choose to get the records in hardcopy, through e-mail or on a USB or CD, you would get a copy of the records as hospitals need the original records to fulfill legal requirements.
4. Remember to Bring a Photo ID
When going to the hospital to take your medical records, you would need to show the hospital staff a photo ID (government issued) before the staff can handover the requested records to you. A photo ID won’t be enough in case you want to take the documents on behalf of someone else as the hospital would need various other legal documents as well to pass on a person’s records to you on their behalf.
Check out the video below and learn the procedures you need to follow to access to your medical information without any delays:
More Tips on Getting Your Medical Records
- You would need the services of a copy service as most hospitals want you to hire one to get your records.
- You can save money by asking the hospital’s staff to fax you the pages of your medical record in case you have access to a fax machine.
- You can save time by letting the staff know that you want the doctor’s hand-written notes as well as billing information (if you so need) with the records.
- Access to original X-rays, MRI and other reports would cost you a lot.
- Organize your records either by date or type of record after you get your hands on them. Keep an updated backup online as well as a safety measure.
- To save costs, you should give date parameters like the date from which you want your records.
FAQs about Getting Medical Records
1. How Long Do I Need to Wait?
The hospitals and clinics usually release the medical records requested by patients within 5-10 working days of receiving the application even though the law provides them a time of 30 days to release the medical records. In emergency situations, the health care organizations do take exceptions and provide the information within a day as well.
If you are going for a checkup with a new doctor, it is best to ask for the records a month in advance of any appointments to stay safe.
2. Will My Request Be Rejected?
Yes, the request can be rejected by the health care organization. However, the organization would need to provide a solid reason in writing for withholding the information or rejecting the application within 30 days. The patient even has the right to file an appeal against the decision so that the decision can be reviewed again. Usually, the requests aren’t rejected unless the organization believes that the medical information is too sensitive and might eventually become a cause for harm for the patient.
3. How Will I Benefit from Getting My Medical Records?
By having a copy of your medical records in your possession, you can ensure that your caregiver has up-to-date and correct information of your medical history and conditions. It’s the best way to inform your caregiver about any assessment that you don’t agree with. You can also ensure that you are not given treatments that you haven’t reacted well to or are not asked to take tests that have already been conducted by having an up-to-date record of your medical history at your disposal.
It also proves beneficial when you change doctors as doctors don’t tend to provide complete information to other doctors. By requesting a copy for yourself, you can ensure that your new caregiver knows everything about your medical history.
4. What if There Is a Mistake in My Medical Records?
If you find out that there are some contradictions in your medical records or there are some assessments which you know to be wrong, you can request them to be corrected. The request would have to be accepted (the changes made) or rejected within two months according to the law with the health care provider providing a reason in writing. There are different procedures at different health care organizations for making corrections in medical records and you would have to ask the health care staff about the specific procedure for filing a record correction request.