It Just Shouldn’t Be That Hard: Accessing Medical Records
Federal law is clear: when a patient requests their medical records, their health care provider is required to provide copies within 30 days of the request. In some states, state law requires providers to produce copies of records even more quickly.
Harder than it Seems
It sounds so straightforward, but health care providers have proven time and time again to violate both federal and state law, causing patients undue stress and frustration.
Some of the reasons why records are not produced in a timely fashion include:
- Difficulty in compiling all the information when it is stored in different places and in different formats
- Little or no consequences for not producing the data in the required time frame
- Privacy concerns, whether legitimate or not
Out of Compliance
Lori Basheda, in Kaiser Health News, has reported on a new start-up company in California called Citizen, that “requests medical records on behalf of cancer patents and redacts them for clarity and legibility.”
In November 2019, Citizen shared disturbing information it had gathered as a result of its efforts: 51% of the hospitals, doctors, and specialty clinics they have interacted with were either “noncompliant” or “required significant intervention by the company to comply.”
Basheda added that Citizen’s findings were corroborated by a study conducted by researchers at Yale University that found “many top U.S. hospitals were not in compliance with patient records rules.”
Patient Access Movement
With its own hashtag - #givememydamndata – this problem is not a new one. Advocates have been pushing for more accountability on the part of health care providers for years so that patients can have control of their health care information.
The proliferation of Electronic Medical Records should have made it easier for health care entities to produce medical records upon a patient’s request. And yet, time after time health care entities ignore lawful requests, deny lawful requests, unlawfully require unnecessary forms to be completed, unlawfully seek to impose excessive costs on the requestor, or just delay, delay, and delay.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed policies “to improve patient access and advance electronic data exchange and care coordination throughout the healthcare system.” Expected to roll out in 2020, any healthcare providers who do business with Medicare and Medicate, will share patient data through apps that patients can view on their cellphones.
Patients who request their medical records are legally entitled to get them in a timely manner. One of the first steps in a medical malpractice suit is to obtain a complete copy of your medical records. Your medical records can be the key to your medical negligence case. If you or someone you love has been stymied in this process, The Eisen Law Firm can help. Call our experienced Cleveland malpractice lawyers to discuss your options for legal recourse and for obtaining the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-287-0900 or contact us online today.