There are few more important means of proof in a personal injury case than that of your medical records. If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault, you will need to access a complete set of your medical records in a timely manner. You should know that there are some rules, guidelines and consumer protections in place to assist in your efforts to get the valuable evidence you need, so read on to learn more about how to procure your medical records.

HIPAA Rules and Rights

Prior to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, consumers faced challenges when attempting to get copies of their medical records. Among many other things, the HIPAA gave patients rights to procure records in a timely manner; in all but rare cases the records must be provided within 30 days of the request. The Act allows medical offices to charge a small fee and requires written notices of denial if they cannot or will not comply with your request.

How to Request Your Records

There is little consistency in the requirements for requesting records, so each medical facility will need to contacted for more specific information and forms. Some offices will provide forms and others will ask you to send a letter with details of your request. Include the following information to help ensure that your request is fulfilled quickly and efficiently.

  • Name, address, phone number and email address
  • Date of birth
  • Date range requested (from the time of the accident forward)
  • Types of records needed (treatment notes, lab results, etc)

You should keep in mind that some medical facilities out-source their diagnostic work to other facilities. For a complete picture of all facilities, review your receipts and paperwork. For example, you may be sent to a local hospital for an MRI, and the referring medical office may not have the records of that particular test.

After Receiving the Records

It's important to carefully review your records to ensure completeness. Busy medical offices can be prone to skipping pages with copying errors or leaving out entire sections. You must request again in writing for any missing records.

When the Medical Office Does Not Comply With Your Request

If you have followed proper procedures and waited 30 days, you may need to take further action to retrieve your records. Sometimes a phone call to the facility will clear up any delays, but if not you should file a formal complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services and your state medical board.

You may require the help of a personal injury attorney if you are having trouble procuring your medical records. Your attorney will be experienced in working with medical facilities to get you the vital evidence you need to win your case.

Talk with a lawyer, such as those at Geoffrey S. Gulinson & Associates PC, for any further questions and legal assistance.