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Is Grady Hospital legally required to keep my medical records? Can they be held liable for incomplete/missing records?

Atlanta, GA |

Having been a patient of the Grady IDP on Ponce De Leon for almost 3 years, I have received a great deal of medical care. Upon requesting my comprehensive medical records which Grady claims is my right to have copies of, I received 56 pages of misc. records. It does not paint an accurate picture of my health or my treatment. It is missing two surgeries, massive dental work, most of my test results, most of my psycho-therapy, etc.

When my current physician leaves his position next month, the new physician will not have any of the necessary records to accurately treat me. Isn't this negligence? What can I do to force them to honor their promise to provide my complete medical records? What can I do if they do not have them? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry for the delay, but upon reading the content at the following url: http://www.sos.ga.gov/plb/GEORGIA%20PATIENT%20RECORDS%20LAWS.pdf it appears as though Georgia Code requires that a "provider" such as Grady is required, by law, to give me a copy of my entire medical history for up to 10 years. They can charge as much as $20 for replication costs, but they are still required to provide any and all records with the exception of psychologists/psychiatrist notes. If they do not have my records and they did not give me the chance to get copies of my records before they lost them, aren't they liable? I have double and triple checked the form and I have spoken with the person in charge of records and they all seem to think there's nothing they can do. Thanks for the replies, I guess I was wondering what remedy I could expect for this situation and what I can do to either get it resolved, or make sure it doesn't happen to others?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

You may need to go there and sign a HIPAA release, if you haven't already done so. Some hospitals require a specific release for psychiatric care. I wouldn't assume they lost them at this point. Sometimes with healthcare providers, you need to be persistent. Your new doctor will also have you sign a release to allow him to get the records. Just be persistent.

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Josh P. Tolin, thanks for the reply. As it turns out, the HIPAA documentation also provides explicit rules for the protection of client's rights to receive their medical records from their health provider. The form that you are required to use for the release of records includes a HIPPA statement. And from my research, you are right about psychiatric records which, fortunately is not my point of concern. I have contacted the director of records and she is going to look into it, but she said that I was lucky to get what I have already. When I asked her about the possibility that my records were lost during the recent transition to EPIC, she couldn't comment. Thanks again for the reply.

Posted

Actually most hospitals are not required to keep records forever, usually only long enough to ensure your continuity of care. This 'retention' period varies by the type of record, but is generally around 10 years or so after care is rendered, due to CMS requirements.

I am licensed in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and therefore any discussion of issues related to other states must considered within that context. In addition, my comments are not intended to create a legal representation but merely to respond to the limited facts presented by the question. Any opinion herein is not meant as a precise statement of legal rights or as a recommendation of any particular course of action. A more complete legal review can be obtained through local counsel.

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Thanks for the reply Normal Stiteler. You are correct about the 10 year requirement for providers to keep any/all records. However, since I have been a patient for only 3 years, I am well covered by the limitations of the statute. The irony of it is that I have better records than the ones they provided on my first request. I have two friends in the same boat that I am in. Recently one of my friends was prescribed a medicine that is not effective for him because his records failed to indicate that he was resistant. How long is it going to take before someone gets killed with this kind of haphazard record-keeping? Is that what it's going to take to get this resolved?