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10 Tips for Medical Record Retrieval

Posted Oct 21 2009 10:09pm

So you have heard how important it is to keep up with your medical records and how you should have a personal health history stored away somewhere.  You know you should, but you are hitting road blocks along the way.  Why are medical records so difficult to obtain???  Well with these 10 tips you should find it a bit easier to obtain the information you need.

  1. Ask for copies of your records in person when you are at the appointment whenever possible
  2. Be certain that your request is accompanied by a signed release.  If not your records will certainly be delayed. (see HIPPA release link below)
  3. The release must include name, address, date of birth, and typically your Social Security number.  If you know your medical record number, include it as well.
  4. Document the date and the name of the individual that you spoke with regarding your records request.
  5. Inquire as to when the records are expected to be ready for retrieval or mailing.
  6. Follow up in no more than ten days from the date of your request.  Try to talk to the same individual as noted in #3 above.
  7. If asking for the records by mail, fax, or phone, make at least two requests (i.e phone in a request and mail a hard copy of the forms or fax in a request and follow up by postal mail)
  8. Be sure to make all items you wish to receive.  If it is not marked it will not likely be sent.  For example, many procedures include photographs.  Hospital charts are voluminous and you might not want every copy of every page.  Hospital records of the most importance to ones personal health history include History and Physical, Discharge Summary, Consultation notes, diagnostic testing, Medication reconciliation forms, and some lab work.
  9. Expect to pay.  Medical records are often copied only upon receipt of payment for copying charges.  To find out what your state allows check out this website for more information.
  10. When all else fails, send a certified letter with return receipt requested and mark it personal and confidential to the physician.  The letter should state the date you requested the records and a copy of your release.

I have included a few links which should help you to obtain your medical records.  Feel free to click and use as appropriate.

While researching this topic, I also ran across a tip posted in 2007 which states you can request the medical claim information that is tracked by the insurance companies on an annual basis.  While I have no personal experience with this, I plan to check it out.  You can do the same by calling 1-866-692-6901 (M-F 8-5) or writing to…

Medical Reporting Agency
P.O. Box 105
Essex Station
Boston, MA 02112

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