How to transfer medical records when moving?

One of the important tasks you need to do when moving is transfer your medical records. It is generally best to think about this before you move rather than trying to get them transferred from long distances. Here is what you need to know about the process of moving medical records.

Authorization laws
It is important to realize that there are strict laws about the transfer of medical records. These are designed to protect your privacy so your medical records don’t fall into the wrong hands. Simply calling and asking the medical records to be transferred isn’t enough! You will be asked to sign a written Authorization to Release Medical Records, which will need to be sent to your doctor.

Transferring medical records can take weeks!
Moving your medical records is something which should be thought of well in advance. For most doctors’ offices, transferring patient medical records isn’t a priority – even if it is an emergency for you. Ideally, you should choose your new medical providers well before moving day and ask your doctor to transfer all records there.

If you haven’t chosen a new doctor yet
If you already know who your new doctor and health care providers will be in the new location, then you can just ask your doctor to transfer the records there. You usually will not have to pay anything for a doctor-to-doctor transfer or medical records. However, if you don’t know who your new medical providers will be, it is probably best to ask for copies of your medical records before leaving.

Getting copies of your medical records can also take some time. It may take weeks! Under the HIPAA law (Health Insurance Provider Accountability Act), medical providers must give you copies of your records within 30 days, or provide a reason for being unable to do so.

If you don’t get copies of your medical records and need medical assistance in your new home, you might face some serious problems. Some doctors might refuse to treat you without your medical records (this is for liability reasons – such as if they treat you and later realize you have medical conditions for which their treatment is contradicted). You might be stuck going to an urgent care facility until you can get your medical records transferred.

Fees for getting copies of medical records
Many medical providers charge a fee for giving out copies of the medical records. Yes, this is annoying but bear in mind that the law says that they own your records, but are legally obligated to give copies when requested. Expect to pay about 10 cents per page of records, plus an administration fee.