A Patient’s Right to Medical Records

February 6, 2020
Medical Records

Table Of Contents


Medical records are critical in evaluating claims involving physical injury. Lawyers at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, in conjunction with medical experts, sift through the client’s medical records, much like an archeologist, in order to piece together what transpired. Fortunately, both Federal and State laws give patients and their representatives the right to obtain copies of their medical records.

Medical Providers Are Required To Create And Maintain Records

Physicians are required to prepare contemporaneous, permanent treatment records which reflect the actual treatment or services rendered. Such records should contain patient information regarding the examination, health assessment or treatment of a patient.  New York State Law further provides that records be maintained for at least six years for an adult patient or for a period of three years after a patient turns 18 years old, whichever is longer. However, there are certain exceptions.

A helpful Record Retention Grid created by the Greater New York Hospital Association can be found online on this page: Record Retention Grid

Who Is Entitled To Request Medical Records?

Federal Health Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) law gives patients and their representatives the right to obtain copies of their medical records. Pursuant to New York Health Law, the following individuals are a “qualified person” who can request a patient’s medical records:

  1. The patient
  2. A Court Appointed Guardian of the patient
  3. The parent of an infant patient
  4. A distributee of a deceased patient for whom no representative has been appointed. (i.e. the Parents or child of a deceased patient for which there has not yet been appointed an administrator of the decedent’s estate)
  5. An attorney who has a duly executed power of attorney for the patient or administrator of a deceased patient’s estate.

How Much Time Does It Take To Receive Medical Records?

Pursuant to federal law, the medical provider must provide access to the records requested no later than 30 days from receipt of a proper request or can request a 30-day extension. However, in reality, records are rarely received within the 30-day time period. Often extensive prodding to process the request and eventually send the records is needed. In rare cases, Court intervention is necessary to ensure that a medical provider complies with providing the requested records.

What Is The Cost To Obtain Medical Records?

New York Law allows physicians and institutions to charge up to 75 cents per page, plus postage, for paper copies of medical records. We recommend requesting that medical records be provided on a compact disc (CD) in order to avoid excessive copying costs.

How To Request Medical Records

We recommend contacting the individual medical provider and asking how to obtain a copy of the patient’s medical records. Often institutions have a medical records department with a unique request form and process. Other medical providers will ask that a standard HIPAA form be provided.

See Standard HIPPA Forms Here: HIPPA Forms

Fuchsberg Law Firm - Here When You Need Us

Our lawyers at The Fuchsberg Law Firm have experience in claims involving medical malpractice and personal injury. If you or a loved one need our help, we're a phone call away. Call or contact us today at 212-869-3500 for a free consultation.