What To Request
A request for medical records can be as broad or as narrow in scope as you want:
- The entire medical record held by a specific health care provider. This is typically a length file, as it would include all visits notes, lab results of medical tests, and copies of medical diagnostic images, such as X-Rays, CAT scans or MRI results.
- Visit notes or a clinical summary of your doctor or hospital visits for a specific time period or for an extended interval. This can be useful if most of your medical history is benign, but medical issues have been diagnosed or treated in the recent past.
- Data from multiple office or hospital visits for continuity of care proof required by insurance companies, or future treatment for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, or cancer screenings if there have been unusual results.
- Most recent medication list, with notes of any drug allergies or allergies to ingredients used in medical products, such as latex (used in medical gloves) or colophony (used in some bandage adhesives).
- Immunization and vaccination history, which can be required for students or for applications for travel visas in some countries.
ADDITIONAL COSTS VARY WITH SIZE OF REQUEST
Health care providers may charge only administrative fees related to gathering and making copies, but these can add up if you have a lengthy or complex medical history. Depending on your medical records needs and intended uses, it may make sense to request exhaustive records, so you have a complete history, or to limit your requests to more recent visits if you have no unusual or pressing medical issues.
DELIVERY FORMATS: ELECTRONIC OR PAPER
You also need to think about what format you want it in, whether in print or via electronic delivery. Electronic delivery, whether via the internet or via CD-ROM, offers the advantage of ease of storage. It can be easier to share, but some physicians still prefer to access paper based records. If the records are large or include multiple diagnostic images, such as X-Ray or MRI prints, the total size of the medical records may make it difficult to transmit via the internet, and some physicians have security concerns about accepting records in this manner. Patients with these more complex medical histories should work with their healthcare providers to better understand the advantages and disadvantages with each delivery method.