How to Request Medical Records: Three Steps

If you or a loved one are involved in a personal injury, wrongful death, or auto accident lawsuit, you’ll need to request medical records. If you have already retained an attorney, he or she may be able to obtain these records on your behalf.

However, you may wish to obtain your records yourself if you have not yet retained an attorney, or if you are unsure of the extent of your injuries. Although the process may seem complicated, it usually involves nothing more than filling out a few forms.

Read below for three steps to requesting records for yourself, as well as your child or deceased loved one.

Three steps to requesting medical records

  • Sign all required authorizations. When requesting your medical records in person, the office personnel will provide you with all the necessary forms. When requesting records online or via letter, however, make sure to look at your doctor or hospital’s health information page to ensure that you have all the required forms. If you’re not sure which forms to fill out, Google and call your healthcare provider’s health information or medical records number.
  • Be prepared to pay a reasonable fee. Be aware that your healthcare provider is allowed to charge you for the reasonable cost of reproducing and sending your medical records. However, you may request that they send your records electronically (by flash drive, fax, or email) to save the cost of making paper copies.
  • Know and specify the time frame of your records. To avoid being charged for the reproduction of years’ worth of medical records, specify the time frame needed in your records request. This might be the approximate date of a surgery, a week-long hospital stay, or several months of physical therapy. Name a window of approximate dates to be sure that you get the correct treatment records.

Obtaining records for your child

Obtaining your child’s medical records generally requires the same process as obtaining your own. The main difference is that you will sign any authorization forms on your child’s behalf. Most forms will provide space for your to identify yourself as the child’s parent.

As the child’s parent or legal guardian, you may also sign a release form allowing others to obtain your child’s medical records. This will be necessary for your attorney to request your child’s records. You may also want to allow grandparents or adult siblings to access your minor child’s records in emergencies.

Be aware that such authorizations are only valid for minor children. Parents may not obtain their adult child’s medical records except in unusual circumstances, such as wrongful death (see below).

Obtaining records for a deceased loved one

The procedure for obtaining a deceased loved one’s medical records may vary between hospitals. However, it’s helpful to have your loved one’s death certificate on hand. If you are not listed as a family member on the death certificate, it may be necessary to provide proof of your relationship,

If you are suing on behalf of your child for the death of the child’s other parent, but you and the other parent were not married, you may need to produce evidence of your connection to the deceased. This could mean a birth certificate, child support contract, or divorce decree. Your attorney will advise you on which specific documents are needed.

How soon should I request medical records?

If you are contemplating litigation that will require medical evidence, when should you request medical records? Probably as soon as possible. Having your medical records on hand is extremely helpful in consulting with attorneys.

Medical records are vital for determining how to handle a personal injury, wrongful death, or auto accident case. Sadly, the potential value of such cases is largely dependent on the extent of the injuries suffered. It’s a good strategy to come to your initial legal consultation with as much information as possible, especially about the extent of your injuries. Bringing medical records to your consultation gives you and your potential attorney a clearer idea of what to expect from your case.

Another reason to request medical records as soon as possible: they may be easier to obtain soon after treatment. Your healthcare provider will likely give you partial records after your visit, so it makes sense to request the rest while they’re easily available. Note that your healthcare provider has up to 30 days to respond to your request, so it’s best not to wait.

While it may be easier for you to gather some records on your own, an experienced attorney will always be willing to guide you in the medical record retrieval process. For questions about retrieving your records, call the Nashville medical record experts at David Randolph Smith & Associates.

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