How to Obtain Your Medical Records Following an Accident
Victims injured in preventable accidents have the legal right to pursue financial compensation for their damages by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Aside from having to prove that another person is responsible for your accident, your case will be hinged on showing that you suffered an actual injury and damages in the accident, rather than a previous medical condition, for which you should be compensated.
Following a wreck, victims can experience a number of damages and setbacks associated with their injuries, especially if they are severe. As such, your medical records become a critical piece of your case, and they can allow your attorney to fully highlight how an injury has impacted your life and why and how you should be compensated.
At Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC, our Tulsa personal injury lawyers have dedicated their careers to guiding injured victims and families through all aspects of their personal injury cases – and we have recovered over $500 million in compensation on their behalves. In addition to conducting investigations into an incident, our team also works with medical experts to fully illustrate the nature of our clients’ injuries and the effects they have had on their physical, financial, and emotional wellbeing.
Obtaining medical records for you or a loved one does not have to be as difficult as it is sometimes made to be by the providers. When obtaining records, it is important to know your rights:
- Any person who is or has been a patient of a medical provider is entitled, upon request, to obtain access the patient's medical records, including any x-rays or other images, such as MRIs.
- If the patient has passed away, getting the records of a deceased patient requires either a court order or a written release (usually a form that the provider has) by an estate administrator or personal representative appointed by the court, or if there has not been a probate of an estate, by the spouse of the patient. If the deceased patient was not married at the time of passing and there is no appointed representative, any "responsible member" of the family of the patient may get the records. This means the parent, adult child, adult sibling or other adult relative who was actively involved in the care of the patient as verified by the doctor, hospital or other medical provider. Typically, this was someone that was either a guardian or was named in a power of attorney.
Here is some helpful information about obtaining your medical records:
- Know what to look for – It is important to know what types of medical records you need in connection to your incident. Depending on the nature of your accident and injuries, you may have visited various health care providers, including an emergency department, urgent care, or specialists. Make sure to keep track of any evaluations or treatment you seek in connection to your accident and injury, as you want to have a full record should you pursue a case. You also have the option to request all medical records, or specify which records you would like, such as when you need only recent medical information from a doctor whom you have been seeing for years. Certain types of medical records, such as psychotherapy notes, can be withheld under limited circumstances, and you should be informed of any denial for a request of medical records in a letter that you can appeal if you choose to do so.
- Requesting your medical records – To initiate the request process, contact your health care provider and determine where you need to send a written request, as some medical professionals use third party services to handle records. Sending directly to the servicer or department that handles medical records can help expedite the process. You may also need to fill out a release form, which you may be able to obtain from your doctor or online. In your written letter, you should make sure all information is accurate, including your name, contact information, date of birth, and other applicable details. Lastly, you can specify if you wish to view the original copies, obtain physical copies, or both.
Medical providers can charge a fee for your medical records. However, the fees are also controlled by Oklahoma law:
- A patient or family member may not be charged more than 50¢ per page for paper copies, but this does not include copies of x-rays, MRIs, or other imaging, which are capped at $5.00 per copy;
- If the records can be produced electronically, only 30¢ per page may be charged. However, this is only if: (1) the entire request can be reproduced from an electronic system, (2) the medical record is specifically requested to be delivered in electronic form, and (3) the medical record can be delivered electronically.
The charge for the reproduction of electronically stored and delivered medical records cannot exceed Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) plus postage or delivery fee. A person requesting their own records also cannot be charged a fee for searching, retrieving, reviewing, and preparing medical records
- Obtaining Physical Copies – Under HIPAA, you have the right to view your original medical records, usually at your health care provider’s office. You also have the right to obtain a physical copy of your records within 30 days of your request, unless a medical provider gives you a reason for the delay.
- Records Disc – Because obtaining physical paper copies of your medical records can be cumbersome and sometimes costly, you can look into obtaining your records in an electronic format, the most common of which are CD discs. Records discs are often the preferred method of obtaining medical records.
Navigating the health care system following an accident and injury can be a lot to deal with. This is why our legal team at Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC handles all aspects of a case on our clients’ behalves so that they can focus on their recoveries. If you have questions about medical records or a potential personal injury case, our on staff nurse and attorneys are readily available to help.
Contact us today for a free consultation.