Make written requests
This creates a record of your request, and helps you explain what you need. If it's written down by you, you don't have to rely on the note-taking skills of the person answering the phone. Specify what information you're looking for, or which records you need copies of. You should call beforehand and ask what additional information might be needed to make a records request, such as date of birth, method of payment (to cover copy fees), etc. The office may have a form for you to fill out and return.
After you send in your written request, follow up with another phone call just to make sure they received your request and that it's being taken care of. If you don't receive your records in a reasonable time, call again. Repeat this step until you get the copies you need. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives providers 30 days to respond, and one 30-day extension if they have a good reason.
Let your attorney do the work
Often, if you have a medical malpractice attorney, they will make the requests for you (although you will have to consent). The attorney's firm will do the follow up and then review and organize your records. Medical records are an important part of any medical malpractice case. They will be reviewed by a medical expert before a lawsuit is even filed.