How Can I Get Copies of My Medical Records?

By: Frank H. Bailey, Attorney, Co-Founder & Partner

Historical

Doctors and hospitals believe they have better things to do other than send your attorney copies of your medical records.  They are notorious for ignoring Arkansas law requiring them to copy and send medical records.  Your attorney can call and follow up with letters which will often be ignored by doctors and hospitals.  To make things worse, they will charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for copying your medical records.  But there is a better way.

A New Tool for Reducing Costs

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) can substantially lower the costs of obtaining medical records.  The Act which was signed into law on February 17, 2009 preempts state law.  The Act pertains to records and bills that are (1) transmitted in electronic media; (2) maintained in electronic media; or (3) transmitted or maintained in any other form or medium.  45 C.F.R. 160.103.

Who Can Receive Your Records

The Act provides that the individual making the request for medical records can designate a third-party to receive the information, (your attorney).  42 U.S.C. section 17935(e)(1).  The healthcare provider must act on the request no later than 30 days from the receipt of the request by providing the requested information or providing the individual with written denial of the information.

Speed

By using the HITECH Act, you can have complete copies of the medical records within days of the request, as opposed to making the request, waiting and waiting only to discover the medical provider wanted a huge sum of money for copying.  The medical records must be provided in a readable electronic form.  This could be a pdf, compact disc, or encrypted email.

Costs

The fees for medical records must be reasonable and cost-based.  45 C.F.R section 164.524(c)(4). What is reasonable is determined on a case by case basis according to 78 Federal Register 5636 (January 25, 2013).  Any fee that the covered entity may impose for providing an individual with a copy of electronic medical records shall not be greater that the entity’s labor costs in responding to the request for the copy.  42 U.S.C. section 17935(e)(2).

Enforcement

The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services can investigate complaints and levy fines for violations of the Act.  If a healthcare provider is found to have willfully neglected a provision of the Act, the Office of Civil Rights can impose mandatory fines of up to $250,000 and up to $1.5 million for repeat or uncorrected violations.  42 U.S.C 1320d-5.

Bailey & Oliver Law Firm

If you are involved in an accident caused by a careless person, and need copies of your medical records, we understand you are in a lot of pain, you are nervous about how you are going to pay for your medical records and medical expenses, and you are nervous about giving a recorded statement to the insurance company.  The attorneys at Bailey and Oliver Law Firm have over 60 years combined experience in handling these types of cases.  If you or someone you know has a personal injury case, we can help.  If you’d like a copy of our request for electronic medical records, send an email to Mitzi Miller at mmiller@baileyoliverlawfirm.com or contact our attorneys at (479) 202-5200.