How Do I Get My Medical Records? Everything You Need to Know

We have made thousands of medical records requests for medical records on behalf of injured victims throughout Missouri and Kansas. Here's how to do it:

How Do I Get My Medical Records for My Personal Injury Claim?

You need your medical records if you have a personal injury because they are one of the most important pieces of evidence in proving your right to compensation for your injuries and damages. You must prove the extent of your pain and suffering, injuries, permanent damage and disability. You must prove that the the accident rather than a pre-existing medical problem caused your injuries. In medical malpractice claims, your medical records are the foundation of the liability claim. You also need your records to provide them to a medical expert who must express a qualified opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that medical negligence occurred and was responsible for your injuries and damages.

What Are My Rights to Obtain My Medical Records

Under HIPAA (The federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act), you have a right to request copies of your complete medical records from any and all medical providers, with very few exceptions.

Who Has a Right to My Medical Records?

Under HIPAA, you may obtain your own records. A representative designated by you can also obtain your medical records. You may obtain someone else's medical records if you have been given written permission to act as their representative. Elderly parents often give children the right to obtain their medical records. Parents and legal guardians have the right to obtain a child's medical records, with a few exceptions. Legal guardians of adults have a right to obtain an adult's medical records.

Who Has the Right to Obtain the Medical Records of a Deceased Person?

A personal representative of an estate of a deceased person can obtain medical records of a deceased person. A personal representative is someone designated by a will or appointed by the court to settle the affairs of a deceased person. Under HIPAA, a personal representative has the right to obtain the deceased person's medical records. Under HIPAA, a relative of the deceased can obtain information in a deceased person's medical records under certain circumstances if the deceased medical records relate to that relative's own personal health.

What Medical Records Can I Obtain?

Under HIPAA, you have a right to complete copies of your medical records. A patient also has the right to personally review his or her original medical records at the healthcare provider's medical office. Under HIPAA, certain medical records can be withheld. These include psychotherapy medical records, records being obtained by the healthcare provider in anticipation of litigation or a lawsuit, and medical information that the healthcare provider reasonably believes may endanger your life, physical safety, or the safety of someone else.

In generally, a healthcare provider's medical records request denial must be in writing, and sometimes the denial can be appealed.

Is There a Time Limit Once I Have Requested My Medical Records?

Under HIPAA, a healthcare provider must provide you with your medical records within 30 days of your request. If it will take longer than 30 days to fulfill your request, the medical care provider must provide you a reason for delay. Some healthcare providers have a form letter that is generated in order to circumvent the 30 day timeline.

How Do I Get My Medical Records?

Here is how to obtain your medical records most effectively and efficiently:

  1. Contact the healthcare provider and inquire specifically who and where to send your request. Sometimes this is in-house and other times through a third party medical records service provider.
  2. Always make your request in writing.
  3. Include all identifying information (including your name, address, DOB, SSN, and medical record number or account if you are aware of it).
  4. Complete and sign a HIPAA compliant medical records authorization or medical records release form.
  5. Specify whether you want medical records copies, to review original records, or both.

Do I Need to Specify Which Medical Records I Want?

You can be general or very specific. Often, your entire medical records file is important, including pre-accident or pre-incident medical records, even if this is not immediately apparent. However, if you've treated with a physician for 25 years and don't want reams of obviously unrelated medical records, a more specific request is advisable. You can specify a certain time period of medical treatment or treatment for a specific condition although the healthcare provider will sometimes balk at doing its own research to differentiate between treatment for multiple reasons. You can limit your request to certain diagnostic testing results such as MRI, CT scan, and x-ray films and reports, prescriptions for medication, labs, emergency room, anesthesiologist, treatment, vaccination, consultation, dictated versus handwritten, discharge records, and many other ways. However, getting the medical records you need in this manner may require considerable experience and judgment and you are well advised to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if your situation involves injuries and damages due to the negligence of another.

Will the Medical Records of One Healthcare Provider Include Records of Another?

Upon review of the medical records you obtain you may find that they may or may not include the medical records of other third party healthcare providers. For example, family care doctors or primary care physicians medical records may include the medical records of specialists such as neurologists, orthopedic specialists, or radiologists. These may be only the records that this healthcare provider received from that specialist and often do not include the third party specialist's complete medical records file, which can be essential to evaluating your particular situation. You should make  a separate request for your complete medical record from the third party medical care provider.

Do I Have to Pay for My Medical Records?

Under HIPAA, healthcare providers are allowed to charge reasonable costs incurred in copying and providing medical records. State laws put certain limits on these charges. Some healthcare and medical records providers charge less than the limit and sometimes have no charges. In our experience, some healthcare providers also attempt to charge costs far in excess of the legal limit under HIPAA and state laws. In these instances, an advisory of the medical records fee provisions, both HIPAA and state law, can bring the costs within legal limits. In order to prevent surprise, it is advisable to request the copy charges before having the copies made. Some medical records providers require upfront payment before providing your medical records.

What Can I Do if My Medical Records Request Is Denied or My Medical Records Are Incomplete?

Occasionally, medical records will appear to be missing or incomplete. Usually, this is simply a mistake and the situation can be remedied and complete copies obtained through follow-up inquiry in writing. However, some patient advocates believe that certain hospitals and healthcare providers purposely make it difficult for their patients to obtain their complete medical records when a medical malpractice lawsuit is potentially involved. There are several avenues of recourse if you are facing such a situation, including the Office of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. online, file a complaint with the medical board of Missouri or Kansas (however this can take years to be investigated), or contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Once you have your complete medical records, you have the primary component necessary to have a medical malpractice attorney review any potential medical negligence claim. In the meantime, do NOT provide a recorded statement to anyone or sign any documents with an insurance adjuster or you may minimize or destroy any claim for injuries and damages. If your claim is for personal injury rather than medical malpractice, you are advised to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer first, before you go on an extended chase for your medical records, because your claim can be minimized and destroyed in various ways while you are in the process of obtaining your medical records thereby making all of your efforts worthless. The best personal injury attorneys in Missouri and Kansas provide free consultations without obligation and you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by not getting immediate information about how to protect your rights in your particular situation.

Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.