Who owns a patients medical records, the doctor or the patient?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 28, 2016
Rfsfireguy asked...

Who owns a patients medical records, the doctor or the patient?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Medical records are the comprehensive documentation of a patient's medical history and care. They are legal documents, which means they subject to the laws of the state in which they are made. They are also protected under federal law by HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act), which sets strict guidelines to keep them private.

Now, back to your question. In reality, the "paper chart" medical record belongs to the doctor/office/hospital/clinic that keeps the record, so that they know what has been done for a particular patient. But as the patient, the information in the chart is yours. Therefore, you have a legal right to look at the documentation at any time and contest its contents, if you disagree with it. If this is the case for you, you can contact an attorney who specializes in healthcare law to help you. If you simply want a copy of the chart for yourself, you can ask to sign a legal form that allows you to get a copy. Keep in mind that you will often have to pay for the administrative costs of copying the record, which can be expensive, especially if the record is large.

Hope this helps!