Getting Your Medical Records - The Health System Specific Edition
How to get your medical records from a specific practice, hospital, or health system
Each hospital or health system has their own instructions for how to get copies of your medical records.
Hospital policies vary about who can request medical records, for what purpose, and what is typically released.
Isn't this regulated? Mandated? Something?
Absolutely. But like most things in healthcare - the regulations are designed to be flexible, depending on the specifics of the health system or provider.
Here's what is required:
- You must be allowed to access your information online. This is typically done through a patient portal.
- You must be allowed physical copies of your records.
- The health system can charge you a "reasonable amount" to give you your medical records.
Here are the catches:
- Not all information must be released -
For example: mental healthcare provider notes are regulated differently, and don't have to be released to patients.
- Health systems have different default sets of information they release. This is typically driven by what types of information are easiest for them to extract & send. The more work is required to wrangle the documentation system (or hunt down physical copies), the more a health system typically charges to give you the information.
For example: Imaging files for CT Scans, MRIs, X-Rays are typically more annoying for systems to extract. Often to give you the information, they must send it to you on a CD.
Is is this annoying for my new doctor to get my medical information?
Yes and no. Release of information for other physicians can be just as much of a hassle. You may need to sign and send a consent form to give them permission.
Other doctors typically don't have to pay fees to access information - but they too are limited to a default set of what is easily sent. Your next doctor or their staff may need to follow up multiple times if they're looking for something specific, like an original imaging file.
Pro Tip: Getting multiple imaging studies done of the same part, for the same problem, is a major cause of wasted medical resources. And of cost to you! Consider getting original copies of every scan you have done.
Why can't my doctor tell me how to get my records?
You can ask your doctor how to get copies of your record of care with them... but they probably won't know too much. Releasing information isn't something that doctors are involved with. They often don't know how the systems work, or the details about their health system's policy around release of information.
Pro Tip: Want a clear answer on how to get your medical information? Try the health system's website. Look for "Medical Records" or "Release of Information". No dice? Call the front desk or main number. They'll direct your call.
Can Vessel help?
We believe that every patient should have online access to their medical information. We're here to help you set up that online access. We've also compiled a list of guides on how to request medical records from some of the United States' major health systems.