You need your medical records but learned your doctor’s office closed down. What do you do now? Aren’t these records supposed to be kept on file for several years?
The following information is provided by the Georgia Department of Law, Consumer Protection Unit.
State laws generally govern how long medical records must be retained. In Georgia, a provider must normally retain records for 10 years from the date the record item was created. However, there are exceptions. For instance, an individual provider who has retired from or sold his or her professional practice is exempt from the 10-year retention requirement if the provider has notified the patient of the retirement or sale and offered to provide the records (or copies of the records) to the patient or another provider of the patient’s choice.
Although your doctor’s office is now closed, you may still be able to get the information you need. You might want to first consult with an attorney before taking any action. If you choose to do it yourself, there are various steps you can take to try to find your records. The Medical Association of Georgia (“MAG”), an industry group that advocates for physicians, provides a guide which includes the following suggestions:
* Mail a letter requesting a copy of your medical records to the practice’s last known street address and any other addresses that may be associated with the practice, such as the registered agent (you can get this information from the Secretary of State).
* Let your new doctor know that you haven’t been able to obtain your medical records.
* Request a copy of the claims that have been submitted on your behalf from your health insurance company.
* Contact hospitals in your area that you believe might have access to your medical records.
* Contact MAG. Although MAG does not have the legal authority to compel a provider to produce a patient’s medical records, it may be able to contact the provider on your behalf.
* Submit a letter of complaint to the Georgia Composite Medical Board (the agency that licenses physicians in the state).
Other laws may also apply, particularly if you were receiving services under Medicare or Medicaid, in which case you may also try reaching out to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights at: https://www.hhs.gov/ocr.
For more information, please contact BBB Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens &Northeast Georgia at 404-766-0875 or firstname.lastname@example.org.