If you are contemplating a lawsuit or claim against a healthcare provider such as a dentist, it is strongly recommended that you, as the patient, obtain a full and complete copy of your medical/dental records even before contacting an attorney. Securing copies of your personal healthcare records is an important first step in the claims process because, when the patient has possession of his or her records, the suspect dentist or healthcare provider will not have the opportunity to make self-serving edits to the medical/dental chart when, and if, a claim is ever initiated. Also, by being in possession of your dental chart, it will be easier for you to consult with medical specialists who may want to review your prior medical/dental care.
Patients often complain the dental office refuses to provide a copy of their records. Typical excuses include false claims that the records can only be requested by another healthcare provider, or that the records cannot be released without payment of an outstanding bill, or even that patients are not entitled to the doctor’s records. All such excuses are inaccurate and contrary to state and federal law.
IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR ANY HEALTHCARE PROVIDER TO REFUSE TO PROVIDE A PATIENT WITH A COPY OF THE PATIENT’S FULL AND COMPLETE HEALTHCARE CHART.
Florida Statute §766.204 requires that a healthcare provider must provide a potential claimant with a full and complete copy of the relevant medical chart within 10 business days (20 days for hospitals). Although §766.204 does not require a request for records to be in writing, we recommend creating a paper trail as it could be advantageous to do so should there be a formal claim filed in the future. We recommend sending a written request for records by one of the following methods:
It should be noted that the healthcare provider is permitted to charge reasonable copying fees as mandated by Florida Administrative Code 64B8-10.003. Specifically, a healthcare provider may charge no more than $1.00 per page for the first 25 pages, and no more than $0.25 per page for anything more than 25 pages (hospitals can charge $1.00 per page regardless of the number of pages). Ideally, it is recommended digital copies of the records are obtained whenever possible. The records should be requested in a PDF format, and it is good idea to provide an inexpensive USB drive (i.e. thumb drive) to the healthcare provider at the time of the request. Regardless of the format, the healthcare provider is entitled to reasonable copying charges as outlined above.
We recommend that, initially, a patient obtain copies of their imaging studies (i.e. x-rays) on photocopy paper. If necessary, your attorney will be able to request duplicate copies of the actual imaging studies at a later date.
As a public service, we have assembled several documents to assist patients in their efforts to request and secure a copy of their healthcare records. Please click the link below to download our “PATIENT REQUEST FOR HEALTHCARE RECORDS” packet. Included in this packet are the following documents:
Please feel free to use and/adopt our packet to your individual circumstances. It is always recommended that the patient maintain a copy of the records received from the healthcare provider. When forwarding records to a medical specialist or attorney, it is best to send a digital copy of the records. A medical specialist will typically incorporate the records you provide into his or her office chart, so you should be careful about adding any handwritten notes or comments to the records. In contrast, an attorney will only maintain your records if he or she decides to represent you in the pursuit of a legal claim. Most attorneys will destroy/delete your records if they turn down representation. By always maintaining a copy, the patient will ensure that the records are not modified or destroyed.