New York State Law gives patients and other qualified individuals access to medical records. There are some restrictions on what may be obtained and fees may be charged by physicians, other health care professionals and facilities for providing copies. Here is the information you need to obtain your medical records.
A. Yes, but not forever. Physicians and hospitals are required by state law to maintain patient records for at least six years from the date of the patient's last visit. A doctor must keep obstetrical records and records of children for at least six years or until the child reaches age 19, whichever is later. Hospitals must keep obstetrical records and records of children for at least six years or until the child is age 21, whichever is later. So, for example, if you had surgery at age 11 and want your records at age 18, the law requires that the physician and the hospital have them. But, if you are 35 and are trying to track down your childhood immunization records, the law does not require either a physician or a hospital to have them.
A. An individual can request his or her own medical records. The law also permits access by other "qualified persons." This includes parents or guardians when they approved the care or when it was provided on an emergency basis. Attorneys representing patients may also request records, as can a committee appointed to represent the needs of an incompetent patient.
A. A request for medical records must be made in writing to either the individual physician or the health care facility. The request should indicate that a qualified person is making the request and should be as precise as possible. The request should identify the provider from whom the information is requested and describe the information being sought. If the records are to be sent to a third party, such as another physician, provide the name and address of that individual. Requests must be signed. A practitioner or institution may request that the signature be notarized.
A. Once your request is received, a physician or health care facility has 10 days to provide you with an opportunity to inspect your records. The law does not provide a specific time period by which copies of medical records must be provided. However, the state Health Department considers 10 to 14 days to be a reasonable time in which a practitioner should respond to such a request.
The law allows physicians and institutions to charge no more than 75 cents a page, plus postage, for paper copies of medical records. Physicians may charge the actual reproduction costs for radiographic materials, such as X-rays or MRI films. A provider may not impose a charge for original mammogram films, but may charge postage. However, an individual cannot be denied access to information solely because he or she is unable to pay.
A. All information concerning or relating to your examination or treatment must be available for your review.
A. Yes. A physician can deny you access to the following:
A. The law defines personal notes and observations as "a practitioner's speculations, impressions (other than a tentative or actual diagnosis) and reminders..."
A. Yes. If access to any or all of your records is denied, you may appeal. When a physician denies you access, he or she must provide you with a form explaining the appeals process.
A. A written appeal must be filed with the New York State Health Department. A provider has 10 days to provide copies of the records and an explanation for the denial to the chair of the state Medical Records Access Review Committee. Within 90 days, the committee reviews the records, provides the physician and the individual requesting the records an opportunity to be heard, and issues a written decision. If the committee finds that the records should be made available, the practitioner must comply. If the appeal is denied, the individual can seek disclosure through the courts. However, if the committee decides that parts of the record are personal notes, the decision is final and cannot be reviewed in court.
A. Under state law, failure to provide medical records requested by a qualified individual is misconduct. A physician who fails to comply can be subject to disciplinary action by the New York State Health Department.
A. If you would like information regarding records held by physicians, health care facilities and other health professionals: