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State law determines rights to medical records

Published On: Mar 26 2013 09:20:32 AM CDT   Updated On: Mar 27 2013 08:42:14 AM CDT

What happens to your medical records when your doctor closes his or her practice? Do you have the right to get copies of your records?

These questions were asked by a consumer who received only two weeks notice that her physician of 12 years had sold his practice and would no longer be her doctor. She did not want to use the person who bought the practice and was concerned about her medical records. She contacted the office and was told that she could get copies but that she would have to pay for them.

Generally, state laws determine whether you have to pay for copies of your medical records. In addition, each jurisdiction establishes how long the office must keep the records and gives you a host of other rights. Each jurisdiction determines the ownership and practices regarding maintaining the records.

For example, in Maryland you may be charged 69 cents for each page, in Virginia the law specifies that your records must be kept at least 6 years. The District also has specific rules governing medical records.

For more information on this issue go to:

http://www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/edge88.htm

http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/medicine/medicine_faq.htm#Medical_Records

http://hpi.georgetown.edu/privacy/stateguides/dc/dc.pdf

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/faq/safeguards/index.html

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