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Medical Records Request basics

If you've moved, have a child going away to college, or are simply switching practitioners, you may need to request copies of your or your child's medical records. A Medical Records Request can help you do just that. Your doctor cannot legally release your information without your approval, but a Medical Records Request can help free up your records so that you can send them where they need to go.

How do I get my medical records?

Each medical office, hospital, or doctor is likely to have different rules about patient access to medical records. You may need to make a few phone calls to find out where your medical records are located and what the rules and procedures are for getting copies or having copies sent to another provider or hospital. Because there are laws protecting a patient's medical information, you may need to provide your request in writing. The Medical Records Request document makes that part of the process easy and quick.

In some cases, vaccination records may need to be explicitly requested separately from the complete medical records, such as when your child needs them for school enrollment. In that case, you might want to mention the need for the vaccination record separately in your request to the provider.

How do I get a Medical Records Request form?

You can use the Rocket Lawyer Medical Records Request document to request your medical records if:

  • You have moved and need to see a new doctor.
  • You are in the process of switching doctors.
  • You are trying to see a specialist.
  • You manage a medical office and need a new patient's records to put into their chart.
  • You have a new insurance policy and your current doctor is no longer in your network.

How do I get my medical records from a hospital?

Different medical providers and hospitals have different requirements for requesting medical records. You might want to start the process by contacting the hospital to find out how to properly request medical records using the hospital's forms and procedures. You might even find the information on the hospital's website.

If the hospital requires that you send a written request for your medical records and it does not have a specific form for you to use, you can use the Rocket Lawyer Medical Records Request document to request your medical records from the hospital.

How do I get my medical records from 40 years ago?

You are legally entitled to request your medical records at any time. However, state laws usually do not require medical offices to hold your records for more than about 10 years, so you may have to do a bit of persistent searching if a lot of time has passed.

The first step might be calling the doctor's office, if they are still open, and simply asking for a copy of your records. You may have to fill out a form or provide your own written request before copies of the medical records will be released to you. If you need to provide your own written request, the Rocket Lawyer Medical Records Request document can help you do just that.

You may want to include your legal name at the time of your last visit, the date of your last visit, and the duration of your stay (in the case of a hospital admission or surgery). In some cases, you may be lucky to have a doctor that holds onto all of their patients' records for an indefinite amount of time, in which case the process may be very straightforward.

If your doctor's office is no longer open, or they cannot locate your records, you may want to look into contacting your local health department. Doctors occasionally transfer files into a state storage facility when they retire. You might be charged a small fee to produce your records. You might even be charged a fee just to have someone look for them.

In the case of older records, you may have to provide additional information, such as your social security number or answers to questions that only you would know.

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Sample Medical Records Request

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