Dear Consumer Ed:
I am not happy with my current doctor and want to look for a new doctor/practice. I called my current doctor’s office and requested a copy of my records, but they told they could not send them to me, that they could only send them to another doctor. Aren’t I entitled to a copy of my own medical records?
Consumer Ed says:
Yes, you are entitled to a copy of your medical records under most circumstances, though fees may apply. Under Georgia law, physicians and other providers are required to furnish a complete and current copy of the patient’s medical record to the patient, upon signed written request by you, as the patient. Additionally, if you have given authorization for another person to access your medical records under a healthcare or psychiatric advanced healthcare directive or a durable power of attorney for healthcare, he or she can also request a copy of your medical records with a signed written request to the physician or other provider.
After receiving your signed written request, the provider is required, under state law, to provide your records to you within 30 days. Physicians and other providers are also required to keep your medical records for at least 10 years from your last visit. The Department of Community Health provides information about allowable charges for medical record copies and can be viewed at: dch.georgia.gov/medical-records-retrieval-rates.
The Medical Association of Georgia and the Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB) provide additional helpful information for patients and consumers. Both organizations suggest mailing a letter to your physician or healthcare provider’s street address with the following information:
- Date the letter with month, day, year
- The specific records you are requesting
- Your full name and date of birth
- Proposed plan to pick up records or provide your mailing address
- Your contact information
- Your signature
The GCMB recommends that you follow-up with a phone call to your physician’s office after several business days to confirm that the office has received your request and to give you the opportunity to make arrangements for picking up the records.
If you are unable to obtain your records after providing a signed written request and making reasonable attempts to communicate and obtain your records, you can file a complaint with the GCMB at: medicalboard.georgia.gov/how-file-consumers-complaint or with the hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/right-to-access/index.html or with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights at hhs.gov/hipaa/filing-a-complaint/index.html.
Submit your own question to Consumer Ed. Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.