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Can I Get My Medical Records if a Doctor Moves Away?

Are you entitled to ask for your medical records when your doctor moves to another area and takes them with him?
– Dylan*

Yes. It is the law that doctors must give patients copies of their medical records when they ask. Very rarely, doctors deny requests, but must explain why. If you're younger than 18, your parent or guardian will probably need to request your medical records. Check with your doctor's office about their policy.

What Are Medical Records?

Medical records provide information about your past medical care and your medical history . It's a good idea to ask for copies of your medical records if you move or change health care providers. Getting some records now — such as medical problems and test results, medicine lists, and immunization records — will make filling out forms and answering questions about past medical care easier.

How Do I Get My Medical Records?

If your doctor moved away but the former office is:

  • Open: Contact the office staff there to get your medical records.
  • Closed: Contact the staff at your doctor's new office to get your medical records.

If your doctor is retired or no longer seeing patients, your records are still maintained.

A doctor's office generally has 30 to 60 days to provide you with copies of your medical records after you ask. When you pick up your records, come prepared to provide your identification and signature. This is to protect your privacy. Making copies of your records and/or mailing them sometimes requires a small fee to cover the cost.

Electronic health records (EHR) are becoming more common. EHRs store health records online. Patient portals let you access your medical records anytime on your own device. You can view or print important parts of your chart with no cost.

Eventually, having to pay and wait for medical records should become a thing of the past!

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date Reviewed: Feb 22, 2019

What next?

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