How can I get medical records from 20 years ago?
There are many situations in which we will be asked for our medical records, and generally, we rarely have a backup of it. Even if we enjoy good health and have never suffered from any disease, we could always be required to present our medical records for many situations, such as signing a contract with a new health insurance company.
Although it is known that obtaining old medical records is a bit more difficult, like from 20 years back or more, do not let that discourage you since it can be done in several ways that we will explain below.
What is a Medical Record?
A medical record is a document that contains all the patient’s history, such as visits to the hospital, treatments prescribed by their doctors, results of clinical examinations, surgeries performed, and everything related to the health of a person and their visits to the hospital or medical appointments.
Some states have laws regarding old medical records and how long they must be kept, but generally, they are kept for 5 to 10 years after the patient’s last treatment.
Doctors are the ones that document the clinical history of their patients, and many times this helps them to demonstrate that the treatment was carried out correctly. Also, it is worth noting that medical records are private documents and have legal protection; if you want to know more about this, keep reading.
Options to obtain Old Medical Records
As we mentioned before, there are several ways to obtain this underrated but definitely necessary document; however, in the case of old medical records dating back 10 years or more, it can be a bit challenging.
Your doctors may be retired, the health center where you received treatment is now closed, or you wonder how to find medical records from childhood. Whatever your case is, this is what you can do first:
Check your documents
It can be a bit tiring to do the process this way, but sometimes we have more information than we think.
Before going to someone or somewhere else, check your personal file and see if you have copies of test results, medical reports, prescriptions, etc.
This way, you are going to collect a considerable amount of medical documents.
Make a request to the hospital or clinic
To make the formal request, you must go to the hospital (or hospitals, if you received several treatments in different health centers) and ask for your old medical records; many of them have a form for this type of process.
If that is not the case, you can write a letter with all your identification (full name, Social Security number, addresses, phone number, date of birth, etc.) and present your case clearly enough; describe your medical conditions and the year in which you were in the hospital, which documents you need, why you need them, etc. The better your explanatory statement, the quicker the response.
Doctors and Insurance Companies
If you cannot obtain your old medical records at the hospital, you can go to your doctor’s office or the insurance company you had at that time and present the letter requesting the documentation; they generally keep the insured’s medical files.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can someone else see my Medical Records?
Technically, no. Only you and your doctor can access your medical history. However, your immediate family members can access it if you wish. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulate everything related to our health-related right to privacy.
However, you may remember that some government entities may have access to your clinical documentation, just like insurance companies. Still, in any case, if your medical record has been exposed without your consent, you can file a claim with the U.S Department of Health and Human Resources.
What if my doctor passed away or the hospital I attended is closed now?
In the case of the closure of doctors’ offices or health centers, all patient documentation is sent to a health center or an accredited warehouse company to safeguard medical records.
The same happens when a doctor retires; the documents are sent to state storage, you can contact your local health department and request information.
How to find old medical records online?
Some companies provide online services that allow you to get your health documentation. We enlist for you a few of the most recognized ones.
- Hixny. If you live in the Northeast, you may try this service to find your old medical records and verify if your healthcare providers have shared the documentation.
- PicnicHealth. This is another option to track your medical records; you may find your old documentation by paying a monthly subscription.
- OrderMedicalRecords.com. This one would also be helpful if you don’t know how to find your medical documentation.
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