Choosing to seek medical attention immediately following a traffic accident or any other type of incident is always in the victim’s best interests. This is because when it comes time to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation, the medical records can be used to prove injury and determine a portion of the economic losses.
When you seek monetary recovery through a personal injury case, you will need to gather the evidence needed to support your claim. Your medical records fall into the category of evidence. While your lawyer can and will help you gather all the necessary evidence, it’s important as a Pennsylvania resident to know how to obtain a copy of your medical records.
Summary of Medical Record Rights in Pennsylvania
A federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) gives you the right to receive and change your medical records. Under Pennsylvania law, there are also patient rights in regard to accessing and changing your records and filing complaints.
In regard to getting a copy of your medical records, your provider is legally obligated to make reasonable accommodations for you to view your records or they have to provide you with copies within 30 days of receiving a written request. Providers are allowed to charge fees, which we’ll discuss in detail below.
Patients also have the right to amend their medical records by having information added to it. Information can be added to make a record more complete or accurate. Providers have to consider requests and respond within 30 days of receipt. In addition to adding information, patients have a right to request a report with the entities a provider shared their medical information with.
If a patient believes a provider denied them access to their medical records or denied them the ability to make an amendment, that patient has the right to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Accessing Your Medical Records
Medical records are often necessary for a personal injury case to prove damages are owed. If, for example, your loved one is injured in their nursing home and you believe abuse or neglect played a part, your attorney can use their medical records to prove the injuries were not accidental.
To obtain a copy of your medical record in Pennsylvania, start by asking your healthcare provider about their specific procedure. In most cases, you’ll need to fill out a form and then make a request in writing. While it’s possible your primary physician could have a complete version of your records, if you have seen multiple providers you may want to request a copy from each to ensure completeness.
Once you’ve made a written request, the provider needs to approve the request within 30 days if the records are kept onsite. If offsite, they have up to 60 days. That timeframe begins the day they receive the request. In some situations, the provider can be granted a 30-day extension—so long as they provide you with a written explanation regarding the delay. In most cases, patients have their records with 90 days.
If you only want to see your records, as opposed to receiving paper or electronic copies, you can set up a viewing time with your provider.
Medical Record Fees
Beginning January 1, 2020, the Department of Health published guidelines and fees that health care providers and facilities can charge when patients request medical charts or records. Fees are typically adjusted on an annual basis by the Secretary of Health. They are based on the most recent changes in the Consumer Price Index, which is reported every year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The current charges per page are as follows:
- Up to $1.58 for 1-20 pages
- Up to $1.17 for 21-60 pages
- Up to $0.40 for 61+ pages
- Up to $2.33 for microfilm copies
- Up to $23.45 for searching and retrieving records for someone else
- A flat fee of $29.72 for the production of records to support any claim under Social Security or any Federal or State financial needs-based program
- A flat fee of $23.45 for supplying records requested by a district attorney
The charges above apply to paper copies and electronic media reproductions. In addition to the initial fee, charges can be assessed for the cost of postage, shipping, and delivery.
Legal Representation from Shrager & Sachs
While you can obtain your medical records on your own, the process can seem overwhelming when you’re simultaneously dealing with injuries. That’s where we come in. To improve your chances of making a full recovery, contact us to learn more about filing a personal injury claim.
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