How to Request Your Medical Records When Changing to a New Doctor
Your medical records are incredibly personal, so it’s important to have them in your posession.
Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on May 2, 2023
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According to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), every patient has the right to access, review, or receive copies of their medical records. When transferring to a new doctor, you can request to have your files sent to their practice. Here’s how to do that.
How to Transfer Your Medical Records to a New Doctor
Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to transfer your medical records when you get a new doctor. But before you hand over your medical paperwork, you’ll need to speak to your new physician.
Talk to Your Provider to Determine What you Need
Not all medical documents are useful to your new practitioner. For example, a podiatrist won’t need information pertaining to your ears, throat, or mouth. That’s for your otolaryngologist! However, they may need a summary of your medical history to rule out other diseases.
If you’re transferring from one general practitioner to another, they’ll likely need your whole file. Once you know what they need, figure out where they want the documents sent. If they want to use encrypted email, consider using a PDF, as they’re great for managing medical documents.
Visit, Email, or Call Your Previous Physician
Before transferring your records, visit, email, or call your previous physician to update your medical history or get prescriptions refilled. Once you transfer your documents, they won’t be able to provide these services, as there may not be proof that you actually went there.
While you have your physician’s attention, tell them that you’re interested in transferring your medical records. Ask them about the process for transferring these documents. If you don’t have to see the doctor in person, call or email the practice to transfer your documents.
Submit the Medical Records Request for Transfer
While it’s true that your medical documents contain your records, they technically belong to the doctor. To ensure the transfer process goes smoothly, you’ll need to follow their protocols. Keep in mind that they can’t charge a fee for the copy, but they can charge to print or mail the files.
Your doctor may ask for a written or verbal request before they hand over the documents. If the request is verbal, they may record your consent. If it’s written, ask for copies. If you haven’t seen your doctor for a while, there’s a chance they’ll have your records, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Wait for the Your Doctor to Complete the Request
Unfortunately, you won’t receive a copy of your medical records right away, even if the request was performed in person. The Department of Health and Human Services states that you should only wait up to 30 days to receive your records according to HIPAA’s Privacy Rule.
In some cases, your physician will need more than 30 days to complete the request. If this is the case, they have to provide a written statement for why the request was delayed. After 60 days, you can file a complaint, but try to reach out to your doctor a second time before doing so.
Keep All Copies of Your Medical Records Safe
Your medical records are incredibly personal. If you have them in your possession, you’ll need to do what you can to keep them safe from prying eyes. If you received them electronically (the most common way), make sure your documents are stored in a password-protected folder.
However, if you received paper records, it’s recommended to keep them in a safe, bank lockbox, or a locked filing cabinet. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your medical records on you, as you can use them to transfer to another provider if your new doctor ends up being the wrong fit.
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