Question: How long does it take to get your medical records?
Answer: New York law gives doctors and hospitals ten days to send the medical records from the date they receive a written request for your medical records. Unfortunately, doctors and hospitals almost never comply with this deadline—in fact, it would be shocking if you get your medical records in just ten days.
Here’s what you should do: First, send a written request for your medical records and in your letter, specify exactly which records you want. For example, you might ask for the “operative report and discharge summary for my hospital admission on April 2nd, 2013”. You don’t have to ask for a complete set of medical records and in my cases that can be expensive.
Second, you should call the medical records department of the hospital or doctor’s office to confirm that they received your letter. Once you have confirmation, you should ask when the hospital will mail the medical records to you. If it’s urgent, you may want to make an appointment to pick up your medical records at the hospital
If you get the brush off and the hospital questions why you need the medical records, that’s when you ask to speak with the “supervisor” in the medical records department. You should explain that you have the right under sections 17 and 18 of New York’s Public Health Law to get a complete copy of your medical records within ten days of your written request and if the hospital does not comply, you will file a complaint against the New York State Department of Health. This will get their attention!
But what if the hospital still gives you the brush off? You should prepare a letter addressed to the New York State Department of Health, bring the letter to the medical records department of the hospital and explain that you intend to mail the letter today if you don’t get a copy of your medical records.
Don’t be timid! The hospital will ignore you if you don’t assert your rights.
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