There are many situations in which a person may be required to send a medical release letter. Moving to another state, changing doctors, filing insurance claims or simply wanting a copy of all medical documents are reasons that cause people to request their medical records from hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Other reasons people may want a copy of their medical records are:
• Filing for disability
• Joining a class-action lawsuit
• Applying for membership in an experimental medical program
• Record of prescribed drugs
In some cases, people need to keep track of treatments and test that they have had as well as illnesses, surgical procedures and office visits.
According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), patients are allowed to request a copy or summary of their medical records with a medical release letter. They will most probably be charged a fee for this. The fee may vary by state. The medical facility is not required to provide patients with the original documents.
The more information that is included in a medical release letter, the easier it will be for the records department or doctor’s office to find the reports. Name, address, date of birth, phone number and, if possible, file number. It will also help to include a list of the reports required.
For example, blood tests, physical therapy reports, operative reports, hospital stays and imaging studies are a few of the type of records that are in a medical file. If possible, the date the test was taken should also be included. The time frame that the patient was receiving treatment or staying in the hospital should also be mentioned. Notes are also a big part of a person’s medical record. These notes include progress notes, postoperative notes, operative notes, postpartum notes, delivery notes, admission and discharge notes.
The address where the information is to be sent should be clearly stated. This may be the patient’s home address, another doctor’s office or an insurance company.
Most doctor’s offices and hospitals require a medical release form to be filled out and returned to the proper department. This can be obtained before writing the letter and given as an enclosure.
A patient can only request his or her own medical records, and they need not state the reason they want the records. They may not request the records of anyone else without the written permission of that person even if it is a family member. If the person whose records they want is deceased, they need the permission of the next of kin.
The letter should be sent by certified mail. This will give proof to the sender when the letter was sent and that it was received. According to HIPAA rules, the hospital or doctor’s office is allowed 30 days to respond, and they can ask for another 30-day extension if they give a good reason. This time limit also varies by state. It is a good idea for patients to look up their state requirements for applying to get their medical records.
By Andre Bradley