If you're told your records are lost, ask the office staff to look again. If you get the same answer, ask your doctor. If you're told they are in storage somewhere offsite, make a written request that they be found. It's possible that they are truly lost, but do everything you can to make sure.
Ask about electronic records
Sometimes, doctors routinely destroy old records, so it's possible that they are gone and there's nothing you can do about it. If this is the case, at least you know that they aren't in the wrong hands. You can look into whether any records are kept electronically. Electronic records are less likely to be routinely destroyed.
Report the error
If the records are lost and you are unsatisfied with the explanation, then you should report the error to the proper licensing agency. In Illinois, it would be the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. The department's website allows you to file a complaint online. The link is below.
Consult an attorney if harmed
Losing medical records is not automatically medical malpractice. In order to prove that it is, you need to show that the doctor was negligent in losing the records (that it wasn't just a reasonable mistake) and that you were harmed as a result. Most of the time, lost records are an inconvenience. However, there may be times when it causes you actual harm. If so, consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to find out whether you have a case.
Additional resources provided by the author
If you have any other questions about your lost medical records, feel free to contact us. We will do our best to let you know if you have a potential malpractice claim, and if so, we'll help you find a good attorney.
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