Medical records are a key part of your legal claim. Under HIPAA, you have a right to order your medical records in Baltimore, Maryland. But even though you can look at your own medical records, that doesn’t mean you’ll get them quickly.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to get the records you need faster and at little or no cost. The knowledgeable attorneys at LawMD can step in to help.
You Have the Right to Medical Records under HIPAA
HIPAA is a federal law that governs all patient documents. Under this law, care providers must keep patient documents for six years. The Medical Records Act of Maryland says patient records, X-rays, and laboratory reports must be kept for a minimum of five years.
When Maryland law and HIPAA are in conflict, you have the benefit of the most protective legislation that covers your medical records.
Your Medical Records Provide Core Evidence of Potential Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases look at whether your doctors gave you the right care. Courts make this decision based on many factors. Your medical records show the steps your doctors took when they treated you. They also show the state of your health or injury prior to, during, and after treatment.
This information also determines:
- The extent of medical negligence.
- The severity of your injuries.
- The amount of potential damages (monetary award).
The records also give your attorneys a heads-up about any defense your doctors may have.
You May Not Get Your Medical Records Right Away
Healthcare providers in Baltimore, Maryland must respond to medical record requests within 21 days. Otherwise, they face fines under Maryland law. But your medical records may nonetheless take time to come. That’s because the hospital or clinic will look closely at the request before going ahead with it. It also takes time to find and copy the right records.
For many healthcare providers, getting records is not a priority. Sometimes patients or their lawyers have to push to get timely access to the documents.
You Can Take Steps to Get Quicker Access to Medical Records
The lawyers at LawMD have helped many clients get medical records. Here’s what helps the requests go through more quickly:
- Make an error-free request. Use the right words when describing the kinds of records you need. As an example, “lab tests” might not include “x-rays.” Your attorney can make sure you have a complete and accurate request.
- Ask for only the records you need. The most records you ask for, the longer it takes for the doctor to find and copy them. Limit your request to what’s essential for your case. Your lawyer can help you narrow this down.
- Send the request to the right department. Your request can get lost in the system if it goes to the wrong place. LawMD has a helpful list of how to put in HIPAA requests for healthcare providers in Baltimore.
- Follow up regularly. Keep up-to-date with your request with regular inquiries to the provider.
For a person living with the aftermath of a medical injury, this can seem like a lot. LawMD can help take care of it for you.
You Can Scrutinize the Cost of Records
Under HIPAA and Maryland law, healthcare providers can charge for the cost of copying paper records. They can also charge for retrieving, preparing, shipping, and handling of records. If the records are electronic, the provider can only charge for labor costs to provide an electronic copy of the record.
If the bill for your records seems high, you can question it. Unreasonable fees are unfortunately common. LawMD can help you pay only what you need to.
How LawMD Can Help
LawMD can be your advocate for retrieving medical records. Several of our attorneys are also doctors. We know when you might have a case and commit to standing by you through your legal claim. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Baltimore, Maryland Hospitals Medical Record Release Forms
(No forms available online – form received from hospital rep via email and is available for email download only)