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My doctor won't release my medical records to me or my new doctor

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spotbird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 05:19 PM
Original message
My doctor won't release my medical records to me or my new doctor
Edited on Tue Jul-05-11 05:23 PM by spotbird
I've had some ongoing medical problems that the doctor I was seeing failed to address. My new doctor requested my records, but the old doctor ignored the request. Two weeks ago I went in person and requested "all my medical records, including but not limited to doctors' notes, nurses notes, consultation reports, lab reports and any other records pertaining to my care with the exception of insurance filings (didn't want to pay for those).

Instead of those records, I received a summary of my visits with this doctor going back about a year. None of the other records were included, but they did throw in the insurance bullshit to make the envelope look full, I suppose. They wouldn't answer the phone, so I visited the office and had a rather heated exchange with the office manager who said they outsourced the record duplication and she'd have to talk to them about what wasn't released and why. Also, she explained, the doctor's office does not release consultation reports as a matter of policy. I was furious. I explained that what their consultant said is absolutely irrelevant, since the law trumps the office policy and the consultant's opinion.

To add insult to injury, the summary they sent was fictional. Fake blood pressure, it even says that the rectal exam (of which there was none) showed a normal prostrate. I'm a woman.

I really need those records promptly because there is a real possibility I have cancer an they could reveal pieces in my history my current doctors could use in diagnosis.

What can I do that would resolve this quickly?

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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 05:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Tell them you're going to sue their stupid asses.
That oughta do it.
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Lawsuits take years - she needs immediate action.
Edited on Tue Jul-05-11 06:23 PM by Divernan
I would immediately contact as many different offices as possible, including but not limited to:

My health insurer
The state medical commissioner/board
The state insurance commissioner/board
Your state representative and state senator re THEIR offices contacting the state medical commissioner/state insurance commissioner. State commissions typically have a legislative liaison person on their staffs who can generally put a lot of pressure on people like this doctor.

When you talk to these various offices, be very specific about WHAT you want them to do for you and WHEN you want them to do it. Today is Tuesday. Call them on Wednesday and request that they contact the physician on Thursday. You want them to order this doctor to provide complete medical records to you on Friday. Spell it out. You have a life-threatening medical condition in which time is of the essence. Tell them each date you made contact with the doctor's office, what you requested, and what response you got. Tell them you were sent records for a male patient, i.e, the prostate exam! Tell them you need all lab reports, x-rays, all office notes, prescriptions, and every single written or electronic record created by the doctor, his nurse, his physician's assistant, his medical technologist or any other employee of his office.

Get an email address for each person to whom you speak and follow up your phone call with an email stating: this email memorializes our phone conversation of July 6th, 20ll, in which I advised you that I am dealing with a life-threatening medical issue in which time is of the essence, that Dr. John Smith repeatedly refused my request for my medical records and then sent me medical records for some unknown male, and in which I requested that your office, in its capacity as (my state representative, my state senator, the state health insurance commission, the state medical commission, etc.) phone Dr. John Smith tomorrow, Thursday, June 7, 2011 (here put in the doctor's office phone number(s) and address) and explain to him his legal obligation to provide these records to me immediately, i.e., within 24 hours, as per my earlier request.

This email tells everyone you talk to that you're creating a paper trail, and believe me, if they have half a brain, they know that if they ignore you, this could come back to bite them big time if this impacts your life.

Also request from the Medical and Insurance commissioners' offices the forms to file a complaint against the doctor.
I used to get a quick response from health insurers who were denying coverage by threatening to haul them into a hearing of the state insurance commission. (I was a legislative atty. acting at the request of various state reps and senators on behalf of constituents who were being jerked around.)

So scream and shout - keep written records of everyone you talk to and what was said, and let them know your writing everything down. Good luck.

On edit: Just re-read your OP. Sounds like your first request to the doctor was in writing (good!) and had the proper legal language.
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spotbird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 06:25 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Where are you?
Can I hire you?

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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Pennsylvania .
I'm only licensed here. I'm retired and have no legal malpractice insurance so can't represent a private client, according to the terms of my state license. If you are in PA, I could put you in touch with another legislative attorney to deal with state agencies. What state are you in? I know a few attorneys in other states who might be able to help.

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spotbird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Arkansas
According to the Medical Board website complaints must be received by snail mail. That may mean they aren't in a hurry to resolve matters. I suppose I could prepare something tonight and hand deliver it tomorrow.
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Sorry, I have no contacts in that state. However, here's some more legal info re ARK.
re the Medical Board and complaints - you can file a complaint later. Right now, you can contact them to ask what the obligations are of Arkansas doctors, in general, to provide copies of medical records.

Here's a link to the Arkansas law, Act 767, re patients' rights to medical records. It provides for those contemplating legal action - maybe there's another section re more general rights. But hey, you can always be contemplating legal actions - that's your call.

http://www.armedicalboard.org/Professionals/pdf/act767....

And here's another EXCELLENT link:
http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/privacy/stateguides/ar/ar.p...

"YOUR MEDICAL RECORD RIGHTS IN ARKANSAS - A Guide to Consumer Rights under HIPAA)
put together by the good folks at the Health Policy Institute, Georgetown University in 2006.
It's very detailed. including "What can I do if I believe my rights to get and amend my medical record have been violated?"
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 07:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. Note: Telling them you're going to sue
and actually going through with a lawsuit are two different courses of action.

A nastygram threatening legal action takes five minutes to write and five minutes to mail.
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cbayer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 05:25 PM
Response to Original message
2. Call the medical board in your state to lodge a formal complaint.
You have a right to your records. Be aware that they are allowed to charge you for duplicating, but you and your new doctor have a right to them.
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pinto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 05:27 PM
Response to Original message
3. Go to your local Medical Board is one idea, off the top of my head.
Edited on Tue Jul-05-11 05:28 PM by pinto
Explain the situation with the factual timeline and ask for suggestions.

Maybe meet with the MD again and explain the need, probably again. Let the new MD know exactly what's happening.

Many offices will charge copying fees.
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Ruby the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 05:29 PM
Response to Original message
4. Yikes! Well,
Doc is likely just following a "protect from lawsuit" policy recommended by the outsourcer.

I would call your state insurance commission, let them know what you have tried (including requests from new Doc), the times you were rebuffed, the fact that you have an ongoing medical issue that needs addressed ASAP and most importantly - that these incompetent fools sent you someone else's records.

That should get their attention.

Alternately, I would contact your local news "On Your Side" (or whatever consumer affairs group they have). These people live for this kind of story. Especially if you live in a smaller town as this won't fall into their lap every day. If they send out a reporter with a cameraq crew in tow to pay a visit to the Doc for comment, you just might have what you need by the end of the day.

Good luck.
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spotbird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 06:28 PM
Response to Original message
7. Medical Board first thing in the morning..
Thanks for all the great advice. I'll post the resolution.
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gkhouston Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-05-11 11:04 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. Please do.
Hope it's not cancer. :hug:
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-06-11 01:01 AM
Response to Original message
13. I am under the impression
that a patient is ALWAYS entitled to copies of their medical records. They can charge you some reasonable copying cost, but must give them to you.

When I was a paralegal, working for an attorney who did personal injury work, much of what I did was ordering medical records, and we never had trouble getting them from doctors. Yes, we had to have a HIPPA compliant release form, but that was easy to do.

Anyway, follow the sound advice that others have already posted. Make it extremely clear that you will be given copies of your records.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-06-11 11:16 AM
Response to Original message
14. Contacting the Medical Board is a good idea. In many cases,
the Medical Board is more likely to take action if there are several of the same complaints on record against a particular doctor.
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