Using The HITECH Act to Get Your Medical Records Affordably

Using The HITECH Act to Get Your Medical Records Affordably
Dec 1, 2016


One of the first steps you should take if you believe you are the victim of medical negligence is to obtain a full copy of your medical records from the healthcare provider you believe was negligent. Sometimes, a doctor will give you your records for free; however, many times doctors’ offices and hospitals will try to charge you hundreds, even thousands of dollars for medical records. For many of us, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and can be impossible if the records costs too much.

Fortunately, a law titled the “HITECH Act” (42 USC § 17935(e)) recognizes the financial burden this puts on patients and has provided an economical way for patients to receive their medical records. The law says that patients shall have a right to get their records in an electronic format, sometimes that can be done by a secure e-mail, or often, on a CD. The doctors’ office or medical facility can only charge the labor costs in responding to the request and cannot charge a per page fee for putting records onto a CD.

Many hospitals and doctors’ offices are unfamiliar with this law, so they may refuse your efforts at first. Others may know about it, but hope that by refusing you will just pay the fee the full fee. However, if the provider has the records electronically, they must give them to you electronically. Importantly, this does not apply to facilities that do not use electronic medical records and can only give you paper copies of your records.

Here is a simple letter that our clients have used to get a copy of their medical records at a greatly reduced cost:

Dear Records Custodian:

I am a patient of [HOSPITAL or DOCTOR name]. My birth date is ______________________________. I request copies of every page of my medical and billing records in electronic form only. Such records include, but are not limited to, admission records, history and physical notes, operative notes, discharge summaries, nurses’ notes, radiological films, billing records, and outside records. Please provide these records in electronic form on CD in the Adobe PDF format, and send them to me at the following address: _____________________________________________.



Once you have received a copy of your medical records, call the Warshauer Woodward Atkins if you would like a free consultation to determine whether you have a medical negligence claim we can pursue on your behalf.