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The Low-Down on Transferring Your Medical Records

Squeezing a doctor’s visit, a trip to the pharmacy for prescribed medications, and a full-time job into a workday can be difficult for even the most organized individual. A simple transfer of medical records to a specialist or new primary doctor should not cause as much stress, right?

When dealing with release forms, tracking the progress of the records transfer, driving to the doctor’s office to pick up records, the answer is most decidedly “wrong!” Trying to get a copy of your medical records to take to another physician can be time-consuming. And, a medical records transfer fee could be involved.

While it is not mandated under the patient privacy guidelines of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that you fill out a release form to transfer your records to another physician’s office, many practices do require this to keep track of their incoming transfer requests. Some forms are simpler than others, but you have to find a way to get a copy of the form, fill it out, and get it back to your old physician.

It is best to let your new physician request the records rather than having them released to you. Your doctor will have a better idea of what information should be requested from your medical records; he or she may not need every single page of notes from each of your visits.

More often than not, no records transfer fees will be involved this way; whereas, you will always be charged to have the records released to you if assessing a fee for copies of medical records is a standard practice for that physician.

Additionally, if you request the records yourself physicians can delay the production of your records until the transfer fee is paid. But they cannot delay a transfer request made by another doctor, hospital or clinic if the records are needed to ensure continuity of your care.

To save yourself time – and potentially money – it’s easiest to fill out a release form during your first visit to your new physician. The office staff can then request the records on your behalf, eliminating the need for your further involvement.

For more information regarding your patient rights and access to your medical records, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources website at .