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Investigation Finds Hospitals Flippant in Their Response to Requests for Medical Records

By Jack H. FarnbauchNovember 20, 2018

A new study performed by JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at whether US hospitals are compliant with federal and state regulations when medical records are requested. Here at the Sweeney Law Firm, it is not surprising that the study found that hospitals are largely noncompliant with medical record requests. The authors of the study recommended that states work to improve enforcement and regulations and make medical records requests less burdensome for patients, which is also wholeheartedly endorsed by the Sweeney Law Firm. 

The study was conducted between August 1 and December 7, 2017, in 83 top-ranked US hospitals with independent medical records request processes and medical records departments reachable by telephone. The study used scripted interviews with medical records departments to simulated a typical patient experience. The study looked at the type of information that was requestable (entire medical record, laboratory test results, medical history and results of physical examination, discharge summaries, consultation reports, physician orders, and other), formats of release (pick up in person, mail, fax, email, CD, and online patient portal), costs, and request processing times, identified on medical records release authorization forms and through telephone calls with medical records departments.

Among the hospitals, there were serious discrepancies between information provided on authorization forms and information obtained from the simulated patient telephone calls in terms of requestable information, formats of release, and costs. On the forms, as few as 9 hospitals (11%) provided the option of selecting 1 of the categories of information and only 44 of the hospitals (53%) provided patients the option to acquire the entire medical record. On telephone calls, all 83 hospitals stated that they were able to release entire medical records to patients. There were discrepancies in information given in telephone calls vs on the forms between the formats hospitals stated that they could use to release information. 48 of the hospitals had costs above the federal recommendation and 20% of the hospitals were noncompliant with state requirements for processing times. 

You can read more here.