You have the right to see your medical record. You also have the right to get a copy of your medical record. These rights are often called the right to access your medical record.
Usually, your health care provider must respond to your request for your record no later than 10 days after receiving your request.
Generally, your health care provider must give you a copy in the format that you request if they are able to do so.
Your provider may charge you a fee to copy your medical record.
How Do I Ask for My Medical Record?
You should ask your health care provider about their specific procedures for getting your medical record. Often, your provider has a form for requesting your medical record. You should use this form if one is available. You should be able to find some information about getting your medical record in your health care provider’s notice of privacy practices.
Can my provider require that I put my request for my medical record in writing?
Yes. Your health care provider can require that you put your request in writing. Your provider must let you know that they have such a requirement.
What information should I include in my request for my medical record?
If your health care provider does not have a form for requesting your medical record, you should check to see what information they require. Generally, when you ask for your medical record, your request should include:
- The date of your request.
- Your name, address, telephone number or other contact information.
- Any previous name you may have used (such as your maiden name).
- Your date of birth or medical record number.
- Date(s) of treatment or service (such as dates you were in the hospital).
- A description of the information that you want to see or copy. This might include:
- Whether you want the entire record or just part of the record.
- Medical condition for which you are asking information.
- Specific test results.
- Whether you want X-rays or records made by heart monitors or similar medical devices.
- Whether you want to see your medical record, want a copy of your record, or would like both.
- If you are requesting the medical record of someone else as their personal representative, your relationship to the patient.
- Your signature.
Can my health care provider require that I include my Social Security number in my request for my medical record?
Yes. Because some health care providers use Social Security numbers as a way to identify medical records, they may need your Social Security number to locate your medical record. There is nothing in the HIPAA Privacy Rule or the Social Security Act that prohibits a private provider from engaging in this practice.
Do I have to choose between seeing my medical record and getting a copy of it?
No. You have the right to do both.
Can my health care provider require me to show some proof of who I am in order to see or get a copy of my medical record?
Yes. Your health care provider must make sure you are the person who has the right to get the medical record before they give it to you. Your provider is allowed to choose the method for verifying your identity. For example, your provider might ask for an identification card (such as a driver’s license).
If you are acting under an advance health care directive, your provider may require you to show them a copy of the form. If you are requesting medical records of a deceased patient, you should expect to show documentation that you are the administrator or executor of the deceased's estate or are otherwise authorized to act on behalf of the deceased person.
What Will Happen If My Request for My Medical Record Is Accepted?
Your health care provider will inform you if they agree to give you your medical record. If you asked to see your records, your health care provider must arrange a convenient time and place for you to review the record. If you have requested a copy of your record, your health care provider must either send it to you or arrange for you to pick up a copy.
How Long Should It Take to Get My Medical Record?
The time limits for responding to requests for medical records vary depending on who is holding the record.
Hospitals in Wyoming generally must let you see or give you a copy of your record within 10 days of receiving your request.
Wyoming physicians must give you your medical record within a reasonable period of time, but no more than 30 days after they receive your request.
My health care provider says that in certain cases they can take up to 90 days to give me a copy of my medical record. Is that true?
No. Although there are times when the HIPAA Privacy Rule would let a health care provider take up to 90 days to respond to a request for a medical record, Wyoming law requires a health care provider to give you a copy of your record in a shorter time frame. Your health care provider must follow the shorter deadline set by Wyoming law.
Can My Provider Charge Me for Copying My Medical Record?
Yes. Generally, health care providers may charge you a reasonable, cost-based fee for copying your medical record. The fee can include the cost of supplies and the labor for making copies.
Your provider can also charge you the actual cost of postage if you have the copies sent to you.
Can I be charged if I just want to look at or read my medical record?
No. Your health care provider cannot charge you a fee if you just look at or read your medical record.
Can I be charged a fee for someone searching for and retrieving my medical record?
No. HIPAA prohibits your health care provider may not charge you a fee for searching for or retrieving your record.
Can I be charged for copies of X-rays and similar records?
Yes. Your provider may charge you a reasonable cost-based fee for copying x-rays, fetal monitoring strips and other records not in standard paper form.
Can I be charged if I want a copy of my medical record sent to another health care provider or to a lawyer?
The procedures and fees for having a copy of your medical record sent to someone else (such as to another doctor or to a lawyer) are not covered by the HIPAA Privacy Rule. They are not discussed in this guide.
Can I Have My Medical Record Sent Somewhere Other Than My Home Address?
Yes. You can ask your health care provider to send the copy of your medical record to your regular address (such as your home) or to a different, preferred address (such as to your office or to a friend’s house). As long as your request is reasonable, your provider must send your record to the place that you identify.
Can I Get a Paper, E-mail, or Fax Copy?
It depends. Generally, your health care provider must give you your medical record in the format that you request if it is not difficult to do so. For example, if you request a paper copy of your record, your provider generally must give you a paper copy.
Providers also must make sure that they send your records to you in a secure manner. Due to security concerns, many health care providers are reluctant to send copies of medical records by e-mail or fax. You should check with your provider to see whether they are willing to send you a copy by e-mail or fax and to find out their specific procedures.
Can I get a Summary or Explanation of My Medical Record?
It depends. You may want just a summary of your record. You may want your provider to explain some of the information in your record. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, your health care provider can give a summary or explanation of your medical record if you both agree in advance
- That it is all right for them to give you a summary or explanation, and
- To the fee, if any, they want to charge for writing the summary or explanation.
If your health care provider agrees to give you a summary, they generally must give it to you no later than 30 days after they received your request. If they are unable to produce the summary in this time, they can get a 30-day extension. Sometimes it can take longer.
Your provider can charge you a reasonable fee for the actual time they spend preparing the summary or explanation.
My health care professional offered to give me a summary, but I want a copy of my whole record. Can they make me accept the summary?
No. Although Wyoming law lets health care professionals decide whether you should get a summary or the actual medical record, the HIPAA Privacy Rule provides that health care providers can give you a summary in place of the actual record only if you agree to accept the summary. Since the Privacy Rule gives you more rights, your provider must follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
Leon asks for a copy of his medical record. Because the medical record is long and complicated, Leon’s doctor would prefer to give him just a summary of the record. Leon does not agree to accept a summary. The doctor must give Leon a full copy of the record.
I received a copy of my medical record, but I can’t understand it. Doesn’t my provider have to give me a copy that is in plain language that I can understand?
Not really. Health care providers often use technical words or a type of medical shorthand. Under Wyoming law, if you request an explanation of any code or abbreviation from a hospital medical record, the hospital must provide you an explanation of that code or abbreviation. However, the hospital is not required to create a new record or reformat an existing record to make information available to you in the form that you request.
In addition, physicians are not required to translate the technical words or codes they use in your medical record or give you your record in a form that you can understand. If you cannot understand what is written in your medical record, you can request an explanation of your record.
Can My Provider Deny My Request for My Medical Record?
Yes. Your health care provider can deny your request to see or get a copy of your medical record, but only for a few reasons. For example, if your provider believes that letting you see your record might physically endanger you or another person, they can deny your request.
The rules that control whether a provider can deny your request to see or get a copy of records related to mental health or substance abuse conditions or treatment may be different and are not discussed in this guide.
How will I know if my request for my medical record has been denied?
Your health care provider must tell you in writing if they deny your request for your medical record. They must tell you why your request was denied. They also must tell you if you have a right to have their decision reviewed and how you can file a complaint.
Generally, a hospital must give you this information within 10 days after receiving your request for your record. Physicians must tell you that they have denied access within 30 days after receiving your request.
Can my health care provider deny my request for my medical record just because they think I might get upset if I read it?
No. Your health care provider cannot deny you access to your record because they think the information in the record might upset you or that it might cause you mental harm. However, they can deny your request if they believe you will become upset enough to physically harm yourself or another person.
Can my health care provider deny my request for my medical record because I have not paid my medical bill?
No. Your provider cannot deny your request for your medical record because you have not paid your medical bill.
My medical record contains some information that my provider is allowed to deny me access to. Does this mean that I can’t get any of my medical record?
No. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, your health care provider must give you as much of your medical record as possible. Your provider may remove only the information that they are allowed to refuse to give you access to.
What happens if I send my request to a provider who is not the one who keeps the record I need?
If your provider does not maintain the record that you requested, they must tell you who has the record if they know.
Tony sends a request for his chest x-ray film to his primary care physician. Although his physician has a report of the x-ray results, he does not have the original x-ray film that Tony requested. However, the primary care physician knows that ABC Radiology took the x-ray and has the original film. When the primary care physician responds to Tony's request, the physician must inform Tony to send his request for his x-ray film to ABC Radiology.
What Can I Do if My Health Care Provider Denies My Request for My Medical Record?
You have rights under both Wyoming law and the HIPAA Privacy Rule if your health care provider denies your medical record because they believe that seeing it might physically harm you.
Under Wyoming law, if your request for your medical record is denied, you can request that your medical record be furnished to another health care provider of your choice. The request should plainly state that you are asking your provider to furnish your record to another provider under Wyoming law. Upon receiving such a written request, your provider must furnish your record to the provider that you have chosen.
HIPAA Privacy Rule
Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, if your provider denies your request for your medical record you have the right to have another health care professional review their decision. At the time your provider denies your request for your record, they must tell you in writing if you have a right to a review. They also must tell you how to ask for a review.
If you request a review, your provider must choose another licensed health care professional to review their decision. They cannot choose someone who was involved in the original decision. The reviewer makes the final decision whether you are allowed to get access to your medical record. Your provider must tell you in writing what the reviewer decides.