Patients' Access to their Medical Records
The Board of Medical Practice receives many complaints and telephone inquiries regarding medical records. The most common complaint is that the doctor/provider will not release medical records to the patient. Minnesota has a state law governing this issue. When the patient and the physician know the provisions of Minnesota Statute 144.292, the requested transfer of patient records occurs more smoothly.
The law is clear that the provider of medical services shall promptly respond to a patient's written request for records with complete and current information possessed by the provider, concerning any diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of the patient. The records shall be in terms and language the patient can reasonably be expected to understand. The provider may bill a reasonable charge to the patients and may retain a copy of the materials furnished.
Examples of the types of records which must be provided include: lab reports, x-rays, prescriptions, other assessment results, or the pertinent portions of the record relating to a condition specified by the patient. If the patient consents, the provider may furnish a written summary of the record. The provider may withhold from the record provided: written speculations about the patient's health condition, as long as the patient's informed consent is provided; information that the provider reasonably determines is detrimental to the physical or mental health of the patient, or is likely to cause the patient to inflict self harm, or harm to another. The latter information may be released to an appropriate third party or to another provider who may release the information to the patient.
Finally, in releasing the requested medical records, the provider should pay close attention to these matters of security and liability:
A signed and dated patient consent is necessary for the records release.
A consent is valid for one year, unless specified in the consent, or by law.
A person who negligently releases patient records, or who forges, or uses a fraudulent consent form, or who releases a record without a consent form is liable to the patient for compensatory damages caused by the unauthorized release.
In a medical emergency, when a patient is unable to give consent, the provider is not prohibited from releasing appropriate health records needed for treatment.
A complete copy of Minnesota Statute 144.292 PATIENT RIGHTS may be obtained by writing the Board office, calling the office at (612) 617-2130, or by going to Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statuteson the Internet. Information concerning charges for obtaining medical records also can be found on the Internet at the Minnesota Department of Health.