Did you know that when you have any kind of medical treatment or assessment, you’ve got the right to review, obtain, and amend your medical records? It’s all thanks to a federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

And we think that’s only fair. After all, you’re the patient, and your medical records belong to you. With access to your medical records, you’re in control. You can make better decisions regarding your health, monitor conditions, correct errors in your records, track your progress, or allow your legal counsel to have the full picture of your health history.

At Yaeger Law, we want our clients to feel empowered, and to know exactly what they’re entitled to. Let’s look at how to obtain your medical records, either personally or through a designated third party.

Obtaining Your Medical Records

The HIPPA Privacy Rule gives people a legally enforceable right to see and receive copies of their medical and other health records maintained by their health care providers and health plans. 

You’ve got a right to inspect or copy your public health information (PHI), as well as direct it to a designated entity such as legal counsel. These records can include medical records, billing records, laboratory test results, clinical case notes, X-rays, and more. You have a right to this information regardless of the date it was created, whether it’s a paper or electronic record, or where the PHI originated. 

In most states, the request to obtain your medical records must be in writing and be accompanied by an authorization signed by the patient. Typically, a doctor or hospital must provide the records to the patient or the requesting party within a reasonable time. In some states, a reasonable time is defined as 15 or 30 days. If the records are not provided within this time, then a complaint can usually be made to the state medical board.

In most states, doctors and hospitals are not allowed to charge unreasonable rates to copy a patient’s medical records. 

Medical records go HITECH

Now, there’s a more cost-effective and efficient way to access your medical information. The Federal HITECH Act, which is short for the “Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009”, applies to medical providers who have implemented Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. It provides a patient and third parties designated by the patient access to their private health information (PHI) in an electronic format. 

To obtain your medical records using HITECH, you must request this in writing and sign it. Next, the doctor or hospital must respond to the HITECH request within 30 days. Under HITECH, hospitals and doctors can charge a fee for the request. However, the fee cannot exceed $6.50.  This is a significant change and benefits the patient by allowing more affordable access to his/her medical records. 

Directing your medical records to your legal counsel

You have the right to have your medical records sent to another person that you designated. You must request this in writing, sign it, identify the designated person, and note where to send it.

However, in 2020 the Federal Court then stripped the HITECH Act of an important feature: the ability to designate a third party, like a law firm, to access a patient’s medical records at the patient’s request. The cap on fees (not to exceed $6.50) has also been lost when a third party is involved in obtaining medical records.  

Sadly, this ruling from the Federal Court does not protect the patient, because it results in fees being indirectly imposed on patients again. 

You legal experts

At Yaeger Law, our legal expertise lies in mass tort litigation cases. That means that we have dedicated our profession to helping people who have been harmed by defective drugs and medical devices

Your fight is our fight. We advise our clients on their rights and offer compassionate, transparent legal expertise. We are ready to help, so let us partner with you. Get in touch for a free consultation