How to Acquire Your Medical Records in Washington State

Doctor and Patient discuss Acquiring his Medical Records in Washington State

Medical records play a key role in the evaluation and prosecution of medical malpractice lawsuits. They are a rich source of information about your medical care and can help you and your lawyer successfully prove your healthcare provider made a medical error that harmed you.

It is your legal right to acquire a copy of your medical records. The steps you need to take to get your records are explained below.

For help with acquiring your records and to discuss your concerns about potential medical malpractice, contact Tinker Law Firm, PLLC in Seattle. We offer free claim reviews.

What Patients Should Know About Medical Record Requests

Your right to your medical records is ensured by the federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The state of Washington further guarantees this right through the Washington State Healthcare Information Act. These laws not only allow you access to your medical records, but also place restrictions on how and to whom healthcare providers may disclose patient information.

All forms of medical records should be made available to you. This includes electronic records, paper records, and records in any other format. You may examine your medical records and/or have a copy made and provided to you.

In Washington State, healthcare providers must respond to your medical records request within fifteen working days. The amounts a provider may charge is set by the Department of Health, and changes frequently. Until June 30, 2015, a provider is permitted to charge a $24 clerical fee for each request, plus $1.09 per page for the first thirty pages and $0.82 per page for all other pages. There should be no fee if you simply want to look at your medical records.

In most cases, you may obtain the records of your minor (younger than 18) child. You may also obtain the records of any person for whom you are authorized to consent to health care.

A patient’s attorney is allowed to obtain a copy of the patient’s medical records. The patient, however, must consent to this with a signed authorization.

About the Record Request Process in Washington

Most healthcare providers have their own procedure for requesting medical records. Typically, the request must be in writing, and the provider will often require the use of a specific form.  You will typically be asked to provide certain personal information, which may include:

  • Your name and maiden name (if applicable).
  • Social Security number.
  • Date of birth.
  • Medical record number.
  • Address, phone number, and email address.
  • Which records you are requesting. You can request the whole record or parts of it. Keep in mind that records can be hundreds of pages long, and obtaining all of it could be expensive.
  • The date of the request.
  • The months and years you were under the provider’s care.
  • How you intend to receive the records (a hard copy, fax, email, CD, DVD, USB flash drive, etc.).
  • Signature.
  • The name and contact information of another party who is to receive the records (only if you are having the records sent to another person).

To learn what’s required to obtain your medical records, call the provider’s office or visit the health information management (HIM) department. Authorization forms may also be available online. When picking up your records, be sure to bring a government-issued photo ID.

Our lawyers work with doctors, nurses, and other medical experts to review medical records for indicators of negligence. To have your records reviewed by an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, contact Tinker Law Firm, PLLC. Call us today or fill out our online contact form for a free claim evaluation.