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OBTAINING MEDICAL RECORDS

If you feel that you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical negligence, it is essential to obtain copies of the medical records which pertain to the questionable medical care. These records typically include, but may not be limited to, the following important information: past medical history, examination and test results, doctors’ and/or nurses’ notes, descriptions of medical treatment received and/or recommended, discharge instructions and medications prescribed. These medical records may contain vital information needed to determine if the care or treatment you or a loved one received from a medical provider was negligent and, if so, whether that negligence caused any injuries for which the law provides a remedy. While the information contained in your medical records may seem confusing or complicated, HKQ’s team of highly experienced medical malpractice attorneys and its full-time, on-staff nurse professional are trained to spot evidence of malpractice in medical records and have access to some of the top medical experts in the Country. You have the right to obtain your own medical records, although Attorney Kevin Quinn at HKQ Law notes that if you or a loved one need your medical records to determine if you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you can also authorize your lawyer to obtain them on your behalf.

Besides being needed to evaluate the potential of bringing a medical malpractice claim, having medical records provides another benefit – it allows you to make better informed medical decisions or to better advocate for loved ones during their treatment.

Your Rights to Access Medical Records

Patients in Pennsylvania generally have the right to receive their medical records. There are some limited exceptions. For instance, if your provider believes that seeing your medical record would endanger you or someone else, the provider could deny your request. In addition, your ability to obtain a copy of your records may depend on when you last visited your doctor. Pennsylvania law requires doctors to maintain patient records for at least seven years from the date of the last treatment. In the case of minor patients, doctors are required to maintain their medical records for at least one year after the minor reaches the age of majority or for seven years, whichever is longer. Hospitals must keep records for seven years following discharge. When the patient is a minor, the records must be kept by Hospitals for seven years following the age of majority.

If you are the parent of a minor you typically have the same rights to your child’s medical records as you do to your own. If someone makes healthcare decisions on your behalf, that person typically has the right to obtain or amend your records for you.

If you’ve been appointed as the executor/executrix or administrator/administratix of a person’s estate, and that person has died, you have the right to the decedent's medical records. (You may be required to provide a copy of the legal documents that named you as executor/executrix or administrator/administratix, as well as a copy of the decedent's death certificate.) Under Pennsylvania law, next-of-kin also have access to a decedent’s medical records.

Keep in mind that your healthcare provider may not deny your request for medical records because of an unpaid medical bill.

Requesting Records

The procedure to obtain your medical records will undoubtedly vary depending on the healthcare provider and/or facility involved in your medical treatment. Some may simply require a written request submitted to a Medical Records Department, while others may require you to fill out a form specific to the healthcare provider or facility. Those forms are typically accessible online. We recommend that you contact your healthcare provider to determine that provider's procedure for requesting your medical records.

If your healthcare provider has an electronic health records system, you have the right under the HITECH Act to obtain your records in electronic format, which reduces the cost associated with obtaining the records. You can also designate a third party, such as your lawyer, to be the recipient of the electronic protected health information.

Should you have any questions about obtaining your medical records, feel free to call HKQ Law at (800) 760-1529.

Fees   

Your healthcare provider is allowed to charge a reasonable fee for copying medical records for you. (There is no charge for viewing your records at your doctor’s office, or having them transferred to another provider.)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health publishes the guidelines and fees that a healthcare provider or facility may charge in response to a request for production of medical charts or records.

The following charges went into effect on January 1, 2018:

Not to exceed

Amount charged per page for pages 1-20

$1.51

Amount charged per page for pages 21- 60   

$1.12

Amount charged per page for pages 61-end 

$0.38

Amount charged per page or pages microfilm copies

$2.23

Flat fee for records to support any claim under Social Security or any Federal or State financial needs based program

$28.48

Flat fee for supplying records requested by a district attorney 

$22.48

Search and retrieval of records*

$22.48


Charges may also be assessed for the actual cost of postage, shipping and delivery of the requested records.

*While Pennsylvania law permits a charge for searching for and retrieving medical records, HIPPA does not. If your provider is covered under federal HIPPA regulations, you should not have to pay the fee.

NOTE: For electronic records, under the HITECH Act healthcare providers may only charge either a flat fee of $6.50 or a “reasonable, cost-based fee” for producing electronic records, plus postage when it is requested directly from the patient. That cost would cover the labor involved with providing the electronic records.

You may request that the physician, Hospital or other medical facility possessing your medical records provide you with advance notice as to what records are available in paper form only so that you are aware of the expected costs associated with printing your records before those costs are incurred.

Any bill you receive for electronic medical records which exceeds the labor costs of responding to this request may be considered to directly violate federal law and  be subject to a formal Complaint filed with the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

Deadlines for Providing Records

Within 30 days after they receive your request, your healthcare provider must either (1) let you see or give you a copy of your medical records, or (2) tell you that they are denying your request for your records.

Your healthcare provider can take up to 60 days to respond to your request if your records are kept off site. If your provider is unable to meet these deadlines, they can get one 30-day extension. Under those circumstances, your healthcare provider must give you a written explanation for the delay and let you know the date they expect to respond. In any event, it should not take more than 90 days total to get a response to your request.

Reviewing Your Records

Once you receive your medical records, take the time to carefully review them. If any important information is missing, or if there is any incorrect information, you have a right to request that your records be amended. You do not, however, have the right to dispute your doctor’s diagnoses. If your provider denies your request to amend, they must inform you. You then have the right to add a short statement to your record that explains your position.

Filing a Complaint

If you have been denied access to your medical records, or denied the opportunity to amend your medical records, you can file a complaint. Contact one of the following:

Office of Civil Rights

1-800-368-1019

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

1-877-696-6775

Pennsylvania Department of State (for complaints regarding individual providers)

1-800-822-2113

Pennsylvania Department of Health (for complaints regarding facilities)

877-PA-HEALTH

If you believe that you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice, call HKQ LAW at (800) 760-1529 to schedule your no obligation consultation.

About Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn, PC

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Reports, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history, totaling over a half billion dollars on behalf of injured clients. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A. Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm for personal injury and medical malpractice litigation in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at www.HKQLaw.com or by calling (800) 760-1529.

				

 

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