How Long Do You Have to Keep Medical Records? — Explained

Request Medical Records How Long Do You Have to Keep Medical Records? — Explained

How Long Do You Have to Keep Medical Records?

Saving medical records can lead to lots of paper clutter. Thankfully, most doctors now use electronic health records, which makes saving them easy.

But how long do you have to keep medical records? The answer depends on several factors—read on. And if you don't already have copies of your entire medical history from every doctor you've ever been to, we'll explain why this is so important.

Need an easy way to learn how to request medical records from a hospital or physician? Let DoNotPay do this for you—it's as easy as answering a few questions.

Why Having Your Medical Records Is Important

It's so important to keep track of every medical procedure, especially surgery and even routine blood tests. These are essential indications of our health in the past, present, and future.

Understanding what's in our medical records can help us:

  • Meet health goals
  • Prevent or treat a future illness

How Long Should You Keep Medical Records?

Ask a few different people, "How long do you have to keep medical records," and you'll get different answers. Some say, "forever." Others say five to seven years. It's a personal preference, but there are also important medical reasons for saving your health records longer.

If you switch doctors, it's always helpful for your new physician to see your complete medical history. It's not practical to depend only on your memory because it’s so easy to forget things about our medical history, especially as we grow older.

If you have ever had a serious illness or surgery, it's important to save all notes about your treatment in case you experience a related issue in the future.

Keeping your medical records for a long time also benefits your family—and all future family members. It's an easy way to document any genetic issues which can be helpful to all future generations.

Since medical records are now digitized, it's easy to save them for many years. So if you're missing any of your previous records, use DoNotPay and make your request today.

How Long Will Your Doctor Keep Your Medical Records?

You should always request and save your medical records—but what if the information you are looking for is from years ago? You may be wondering, "how long are medical records kept?" Or, maybe you're 'asking' Google, "all medical records should be stored for how long?" The answer varies, depending on where you live.

Doctors and hospitals must keep medical records for a certain number of years, depending on the state. Here is a resource that lists each state's rules. If you are a physician or healthcare provider, it's important to stay up-to-date on your state's current laws, which can change.

Here are a few examples in the following table, sourced from the resource link above. The rules vary depending on location and the patient's age.

Requirements For Saving Medical Records For Adult Patients, By State

LocationMedical DoctorsHospitals
Arizona6 years after the last date of services from the provider.6 years after the last date of service from the provider.
Florida5 years from the last patient contact.7 years after the last entry, if it’s a public hospital.
Georgia10 years from the date the record was created.5 years after the date of discharge.
New York6 years.6 years from the date of discharge.
Texas7 years from the date of the last treatment.10 years after the patient was last treated in the hospital.

It's Not Too Late to Request Your Medical Records

A doctor or hospital will often keep your medical records longer than state laws require. So if you think it's too late to request your medical files, it may not be. Many healthcare providers recognize that it's important to save your complete medical history for a longer time in some instances, such as a serious illness.

In any case, it can't hurt to ask to see if your records are still available. Use DoNotPay to request a medical history, no matter how long it's been.

How To Get Your Medical Records on Your Own

No need to keep typing into Google, "how to get my medical records" because we'll explain the steps you need to take right here. But, there is also an easier way to learn all about medical records and stay up-to-date on current laws, and that’s with DoNotPay.

If you're ambitious, here's how to request medical records on your own:

  1. Find out the correct procedure for requesting medical records by calling your healthcare provider or hospital. You can also try checking their website.
  2. Write a letter, by mail or email, requesting your medical records. Specify whether you are the patient or a caregiver. Legally, you can request your medical records to be sent to someone else.
  3. Make sure to include this information, according to AAFA:
  • Full name, address, email, and phone number.
  • Social security number and date of birth.
  • Patient ID number (if it is a hospital, and you have this information.)
  • Specify the records you are requesting and how you want to receive them (by email, mail, or fax.)
  • Sign this letter with a written or electronic signature.
  • Find out if there is a fee for obtaining your records. Include your payment information.

In addition, understand that it is your right under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to obtain your medical records from any healthcare provider or health insurance company regardless of any unpaid bills.

What Can Go Wrong

Do your research before following the steps above. You'll have to verify the correct procedure for obtaining records from each specific healthcare provider and accurate contact information.

Since doctors and hospitals may have different procedures for requesting medical records, it can be easy to miss a step. If you submit a request incorrectly, you may not be notified. You may wait a long time before realizing your request wasn't successful.

How To Request Medical Records Using DoNotPay

DoNotPay has seen these requests before and knows how to write your health care provider a simple, clear, and effective letter that will get your legally-guaranteed health records for you in no time.

  1. Look up medical records on DoNotPay’s website.

     

  2. Enter the name of the health care provider you’d like to receive medical records from.

     

  3. Answer a few questions about your provider and where you’d like to send the records.

     

DoNotPay Can Also Help Solve Any Medical-Related Issues or Inquiries You May Have

Let DoNotPay be your virtual assistant and help you with other medical record issues:

DoNotPay Does Even More, With a Few Clicks

No matter how frustrating and time-consuming a problem is, DoNotPay makes it simple to find a solution. Here are a few more things that DoNotPay can help you with:

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