Medical Records

A patient medical record is a valuable tool that helps patients and their healthcare providers understand health conditions and the best way to treat them. It is important to keep records of big events like surgeries or diagnoses of chronic conditions, and ordinary things like immunization history, and tests of cholesterol levels or blood pressure.

What Patients Should Do

  • Retain a copy of their medical records every 5 years;
  • Expect their physician to have their records available in a reasonable period of time;
  • Ask if your physician uses electronic medical records and inquire if there is a online portal or electronic personal health record available.

What Medical Practices Should Do

  • Store patients' medical records for at least five years after the most recent patient encounter, regardless of whether the patient is alive or dead. Providers may charge a reasonable administrative fee for copying medical records; however, the transfer of medical records cannot be delayed due to non-payment of administrative fees. more
  • Provide copies when requested. Providers may charge a reasonable administrative fee for copying medical records; however, the transfer of medical records cannot be delayed due to non-payment of administrative fees. Records should be provided within 30 days.
  • Make sure that records are still available if the practice is closed. more
  • Use Electronic Health Records, which provide a better way to see long-term medical issues and track trends among groups of people. Healthcare providers who accept Medicaid or Medicare must meet "meaningful use" standards. more