Your medical records contain a detailed history of your conditions, treatments and care. Medical records are a critical aspect of health care that are protected by federal and state laws. Your medical records can be important to access and obtain for many reasons. Learning how to obtain your medical records in New Jersey can allow you to protect and exercise your rights as a patient.
One of the most common reasons patients obtain their medical records is to serve as evidence during insurance claims or injury lawsuits. Medical records can be evidence that an injury occurred. Medical records can explain what caused the injury, such as a car accident or physical abuse. Obtaining your medical records may be a requirement if you wish to have a successful insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey.
The law regarding medical records and patient privacy is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA gives you the right to access, obtain, correct and amend your medical records. The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives you several basic medical record rights.
Almost all health care providers in New Jersey must follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule as well as state laws. If state and HIPAA laws do not align, a provider must choose the option that best protects a patient’s rights. Hospitals in New Jersey must keep medical records for at least 10 years after a patient’s discharge, or until the patient reaches the age of 23 (whichever is longer). Doctors must keep records at least seven years from the last time they updated them.
The law in New Jersey permits you to see and obtain your own medical records, or records about yourself. You may also have the right to obtain medical records for a minor child in your care. The only other person who can obtain medical records about you is your personal representative.
If you wish to request copies of your medical records in New Jersey, contact your health care provider. Some health care providers require record requests to be put in writing. List the exact medical records you wish to access or obtain, as well as your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and dates of treatment. Wait at least 30 days to receive a response before following up if you have not heard anything.
Health care providers are allowed to charge patients for copies of medical records under the rules of HIPAA. When making your request, ask how much the hospital charges. You will need to pay these costs before retrieving your medical records. The health care provider should take no later than 30 days to fulfill your request.
If you need copies of your medical records to serve as evidence in a personal injury claim in New Jersey, contact a Monmouth County medical malpractice attorney to assist you. An attorney can help you submit a request for the particular medical records relevant to your case and go up against a health care provider that refuses to uphold your rights as a patient. If you have to pay for your medical records, a lawyer may be able to recoup these costs for you as part of an injury settlement.