How to Get Records From a Hospital

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If you need to get your medical records from a hospital, the process isn't as daunting as you might have thought. You might need your medical records to apply for a government program, settle a legal dispute or educate yourself about your conditions and treatments. Whatever your reasons, you have a legal right to obtain a full copy of your records, as long as you comply with the current privacy laws and hospital regulations.

Things You'll Need

  • Social security number
  • Release of information form
  • Cash for fees
  • Contact the hospital's Health Information Systems department. The HIS department was formerly called Medical Records in most hospitals. This is the office that will handle your request, so try to get the direct phone number to this department when you call the hospital operator.

  • Request a "Release of Information" or ROI form. The hospital should be able to mail or fax this document to you. This form is critical, though, as the hospital will not release any information without this document.

  • Complete the ROI form. It may include an area for you to indicate which records you want released and where you want them sent, or it may be more limited. Read the form completely and understand what it is saying.

  • Write a letter to return with the form that outlines the timeframe that you received treatment at the hospital, which records you want sent to you, and where you want them sent. You can request all of your records, or you can ask for specific sections such as admission and discharge summaries, lab results, or radiology or pathology notes.

  • Include your full name and social security number on all forms that you send to the hospital. This includes any check or money order that you are required to send to cover the cost of the records. Hospitals code patient records using their own system, but the records are also tagged by social security numbers.

  • Mail or hand-deliver all the forms and fees together.

  • Wait two to four weeks for your records to arrive. If they haven't arrived within six weeks, you should follow up with a phone call to the HIS department to check the status of your records request.

References

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