Obtaining Medical Records

Medical records are frequently used for non-medical purposes, including for example, to prove entitlement to insurance benefits, prove health and fitness for employment, prove the existence of a disability, or to excuse an absence from court, school or work. Regardless of the reason you seek medical records, the following steps will help you obtain the records you seek:

  1. Make your request for medical records in writing. This is required by Public Health Law §17.
  2. Be sure to specifically identify whether you seek your own medical records or someone else’s medical records. You may request another’s medical records if:
    1. You are a parent or guardian requesting the records of an infant;
    2. You are a guardian appointed pursuant to article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law requesting the records of the person to whom you were appointed;
    3. You are a conservator requesting the records of a conservatee.
    4. You are the distributee (or Power of Attorney for such distributee) of a deceased person for whom a personal representative has not been appointed
    5. You are the power of attorney for a patient and you are requesting records on behalf of that patient. Be prepared to provide documentation proving you are who you claim to be. For example, if you are a Power of Attorney, be prepared to provide a copy of the Power of Attorney with your request for medical records.
  3. Be sure to specify what records you request. These might include medical records, imaging studies, test records, laboratory records, operative records or billing records from the patient’s examining, consulting or treating physician or hospital.
  4. Be prepared to pay for your records. Health care providers are permitted to impose “a reasonable charge” which cannot be more than $.75 per page. If your records are voluminous federal legislation allows you to request the provider produce the records in a digital format at a reduced cost. See 45 CFR 164.524(c)(4)(i).
  5. Ask the medical provider for any authorization they require you to sign in order to release the medical records you seek.
  6. Be patient. If you only want to inspect your records, your request must be accommodated within 10 days. See Public Health Law §18(2)(a)-(c). If you are requesting a copy of your records, the provider must act “within a reasonable time.” Public Health Law §18(2)(d). Generally, the request should be honored within 30 days. If you do not receive a response, make a second request.

The lawyers at Lacy Katzen LLP frequently order medical records in order to review the merit of personal injury claims. If you have a potential medical malpractice claim, a motor vehicle accident claim, a nursing home claim for neglect, abuse or negligence or any other type of personal injury claim, please know that we can help you obtain the necessary medical records. Please feel free to call us for a free consultation.