HIPAA – Patient’s Access to Medical RecordsA patient has a right to obtain a copy of his or her medical records. Certain exceptions apply where access to such medical records may endanger the health or safety of the patient, and other very proscribed situations. Otherwise, your doctor or hospital may not deny your request, or the request of your authorized representative, to your medical records.
The request must be made properly and must comply with the provisions of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Provisions relating to access to medical records can be found at 45 C.F.R. 164.525. HIPAA afords medical providers 30 days to provide the records. One 30-day extension is allowed for good cause. State laws can offer more protections to patients, but not less than provided by HIPAA.
The failure to comply with a proper request for the release of medical records is a violation of federal law and federal civil rights. A complaint may be filed with the Office for Civil Rights.
New Jersey Law
In New Jersey, patient’s access to medical records is also governed by the New Jersey Administrative Code. N.J.A.C. § 13:35-6.5 requires that a medical provider provide access to professional treatment records of a patient no later than 30 days from receipt of a request from a patient or an authorized representative. The cost of reproduction of records cannot be greater than $ 1.00 per page or $ 100.00 for the entire record, whichever is less. If the record requested is less than 10 pages, the fee may be up to $ 10.00 to cover postage and the miscellaneous costs. The reproduction of x-rays or any other material within a patient record which cannot be routinely copied or duplicated on a commercial photocopy machine, shall be no more than the actual cost of the duplication of the materials, or the fee charged to the doctor for the duplication, plus an administrative fee of the lesser of $ 10.00 or 10 percent of the cost of reproduction.
If a medical doctor, a doctor of osteopathy, or podiatrist refuses to comply with a proper request for medical records a complaint can be filed with the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners at:
State of New Jersey
State Board of Medical Examiners
P.O. Box 183
Trenton, NJ 08625
A complaint can also be filed online.
You also have the right to sue your health care provider for violations of your rights in refusing to allow access to your medical record under New Jersey law.
New York Law
In New York, access to patient records is governed by New York Public Health Law § 18. The reasonable charge for paper copies of medical records cannot exceed seventy-five cents per page. Upon the written request of a qualified person, a health care provider is required to furnish to such person, within a reasonable time, a copy of any patient information requested.