How do I get my medical records?
As a patient, you do not really own your medical records; the healthcare provider creates them, and owns them. On the other hand, medical records are confidential by state and federal law and should be treated as confidential material. You have the right to have your medical records kept confidential and except for very limited circumstances, only you may authorize the release of your records. One exception to this is if the medical record is needed for a criminal or civil proceeding and may become subject to subpoena. O.C.G.A. section 24-9-40.
Georgia law requires a physician to provide a current copy of the record to the patient upon request (normally in writing) under most circumstances. O.C.G.A. section 31-33-2(a). Also, O.C.G.A. section 31-33-2(b) allows a patient or his/her designee to receive a copy of the requested records. Physicians may, under state law, charge a reasonable fee for the copying of records. A physician may charge the fees outlined in O.C.G.A section 31-33-3(a) for copying and mailing patient records. The physician may even require the payment “up front”, before providing the records. The statute allows a charge of $20.00 for search and retrieval, $7.50 for each record certified, actual costs of postage, copying costs of up to 75cents per page for the first 20 pages, 65cents per page for pages 21 – 100, and 50cents per page for each page over 100 pages. If some of the records are not in paper form (such x-rays) the provider can charge the actual cost of reproduction. These charges will rise with the Consumer Price Index starting July 1, 2002 and will continue to rise each year thereafter.
There is a law that allows a physician to refuse to give a patient a copy of their medical record if the health care provider, in good faith, believes that revealing the contents of the record may cause the patient physical or mental harm. However, the patient may request that the record be sent directly to a new designated health care provider without the patient knowing or viewing the contents of the record. O.C.G.A. section 31-33-2(c). Also, psychiatric, psychological or other mental health records are exempted O.C.G.A. section 31-33-4).
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This site contains only general information and is not intended to constitute specific legal advice or establish an attorney/client relationship. Malpractice laws are constantly changing. If you think you may have a malpractice case you should promptly contact a lawyer experienced in handling malpractice cases.
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