Medical Records? You Have a Right to Them

September 24, 2013

You Have a Right to Copies of Your Medical Records in Pennsylvania (And Elsewhere)


Medical RecordsOver the years I have had occasion to call various doctors’ offices to request my own medical records. It feels like 99.9% of the time, I get an argument. The staff want to send my records to another doctor. Or the staff want to make me come to the location (I no longer live near) to sign for my records. Or the staff just delay. And delay. And delay. Frankly, it makes me see a little bit of red. If I get frustrated enough, I pull out the attorney card. But I shouldn’t have to say I am a lawyer to get my records. On the other hand, as an attorney, if I am requesting records for a client, I normally have considerably less trouble.

I wish I could tell you why medical offices are sometimes reluctant to cooperate when people want their own records. I cannot begin to understand why this has to be such an issue. Here’s the thing. You have rights when it comes to your medical records. And those rights include copies of them. Here’s how it works.

Getting Your Medical Records in Pennsylvania

When you want your medical records you should need only do the following:

  1. Complete a form. It doesn’t have to be the office’s form. Any form with the correct language and a signature will do.
  2. Pay a reasonable fee for your records.
  3. Wait a reasonable amount of time.
  4. Receive your records.

That’s it.

What are the Charges?

You can find them listed in detail on the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website.

Right now (September 2013,) these are the fees:

  • First 1-20 pages can cost up to a maximum of $1.42 per page.
  • That amount decreases as the number of pages increase.
  • Pages 21-60 can cost a maximum of $1.05 each.
  • If you are requesting your records to support a Social Security claim there is a flat fee of $26.70.
  • There can be different fees for x-rays and other records that cannot be photocopied.
  • The office may also charge a fee for actual cost of postage, shipping and delivery.

Can My Doctor Keep My Records from Me if I Have an Unpaid Bill?

I hear this way too often. “My doctor won’t give me my records because I owe $15.” This is not ok. This is not ok at all.  A medical office may not keep your records from you because you have an unpaid bill. The office may keep your records until you pay the fees related to getting your medical records though.


Don’t let a doctor’s office tell you that you cannot have your records. You have a right to them.  And if you need your records because of a lawsuit, your attorney has a right to them on your behalf.  At Lowenthal & Abrams, we request and pay for the fees on our clients’ behalf. And believe you me. If we need your medical records. We will get them. So if you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney, give us a call. We’ll discuss your case with you for free.


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