Medical or health records serve as a vital component of your healthcare. As per federal law, you are entitled to access and update the data enclosed in these documents, offering you a greater degree of control over your medical decisions.
Healthcare providers and insurance firms can also disclose information from your medical records when it’s crucial for your treatment. They are also further permitted to share specific parts of your information when pursuing payment.
This article outlines the process of requesting your medical records that may no longer be availible, what steps to take if your request is rejected, and the categories of information that can be divulged without your explicit consent.
First Steps to Finding Old Medical Records
Physicians and doctors bear the responsibility of recording a patient’s medical and clinical history for a limited amount of time depending on their jurisdiction (See Medical Records Retention Laws). Such documentation aids them in ascertaining and demonstrating that the medical treatment was correctly administered. Nevertheless, medical records are highly sensitive and private documents, safeguarded by legal protections that include both how long a hospital or doctor must retain the documents and who is legally able to see the documents..
Regarding the retrieval of medical records from 10+ ago, there are several approaches, but it may still end up in failure. The healthcare facility might have shut down or the doctor may have retired, complicating the process. However, the following strategies may assist you in obtaining your two-decade-old medical records:
Review Your Personal Documents
Often, we possess more information than we realize. It may seem silly, but before seeking assistance from others to locate your medical records, review your personal documents and files. It’s highly probable that you have some records in the form of prescriptions, medical reports, and test results.
Contact The Hospital
Should your personal files not yield the desired records, you could formally request them from the hospital or clinic where you received treatment. Many healthcare facilities have established procedures for the release of such documents.
If no procedure is in place, write a letter containing your personal details (name, address, date of birth, phone number, and social security number) and send it to the healthcare facility. Ensure to include specifics of your case, such as the year of treatment and medical conditions, and specify which documents you need and why.
Reach Out To Insurance Companies & Doctors
If the hospital or clinic is unable to provide the required medical records, consider visiting the doctor’s private office or contacting your insurance company. Insurance companies often retain this kind of information and are less likely to retire. Send them the same letter you sent to the hospital.
In most cases, you may need to wait between 30 to 60 days to receive a response or approval of your request. Always retain a copy of your original request for your records. If all else fails and you’re unable to access your medical records, reach out to your local department of health.
Note: While a provider cannot deny you access to your records due to unpaid services, they may levy reasonable charges for copying and mailing the records, but they are prohibited from charging a fee for searching for or retrieving your records.
Finding Old Medical Records Online
In many cases, older medical records won’t be available on-line so if it is important to access a digital copy of your medical records you will need to reach out to a 3rd party partner such us Medchart.
Note: If your medical records have been destroyed by the hospital because they are too old to be retained then Medchart will not be able to recover them.
What is Medchart.com?
Medchart is a secure platform designed to facilitate the transfer of medical records from any healthcare provider — including clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies — to you or your authorized representatives, such as legal teams, care teams, or family members. The transfer of medical records via Medchart requires your explicit consent, reinforcing your ownership over these sensitive documents. This service is utilized by a broad spectrum of users, encompassing patients, legal professionals, hospitals, clinics, government programs, and health service providers, to access health information.
The platform enhances the security, quality, and efficiency of medical record transfers, ensuring that your healthcare or legal team is adequately equipped to deliver the services for which they have been engaged. Medchart’s staff is trained specifically in privacy and medical record best practices, making them exceptionally capable of handling your sensitive personal and health information.
Medchart adheres to and exceeds the standards set by privacy legislation, such as HIPAA at the federal level in the United States, as well as state-specific privacy laws, guaranteeing the protection of your information. Since Medchart is used by hospitals, government programs, and large corporate health service providers, the company’s technology and practices have undergone rigorous testing to meet and surpass the privacy and security requirements of these organizations.
Note: If you are ever contacted about Medchart by a hospital or other provider, it’s likely a part of their high standards for releasing your information. They may need to verify your identity, consent, and knowledge of Medchart, so don’t be alarmed by such a call. In such cases, you simply need to confirm your consent for the release of your medical records.
Medical Records Access
Exclusive rights to access your records are granted solely to you or your designated representative.
Healthcare providers or insurance plans may distribute copies of your records to another provider or plan solely for treatment or payment purposes, or upon receiving your explicit authorization.
However, the Privacy Rule doesn’t mandate healthcare providers or insurance plans to disclose information to other providers or plans.