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Doctor Refuses to Release Medical Records


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I have had so many problems with my previous cardiologist- and now it's at the point where I need some advice from you all. There have been so very many problems over the last 3 years since I started seeing this doctor, and I stuck with him for TWO reasons- the man was very kind himself and face it, with POTS we just don't have much choice- this office was close to my house and they accepted my insurance.

Now...I have moved away to Florida and am searching for a new doctor. I've found several in my area thanks to some wonderful recommendations, but I can't see anyone until I get copies of my medical records AND get approved for health insurance, which is ALSO pending receipt of his records. I knew this would be a big issue for his office, because it can be tough to get anything accomplished. So I started all the way back in April attempting to get my hands on my chart. There have been SIX attempts and I still have no records, and neither does the company I applied for insurance with. Breif overview:

1st attempt: April 2004, went to his office in person for an appointment with him, and he wasn't there, and neither was my chart. I rescheduled.

2nd attempt: May 2004, went for my rescheduled appointment, and the doctor was there this time, but my chart was not. He then charged me for the visit which was only intended to pick up my records and he had verbally agreed NOT to charge me since I was a long time patient with no insurance.

3rd attempt: I called his office several times over the next week and they kept telling me they would call me back, but never did. Finally I got ahold of the office manager at the beginning of June, and she told me she would send the records in the mail. A week later I received 5 sheets of paper which were irrelavant to my chart, which is about 100-150 pages thick.

4th attempt: End of June. Called to ask them where the rest of my records were, and they said they would send them out right away. At this time they had just started charging a $10 fee to retrieve them, but I was told it would be waived since it was their mistake. I told them I was moving on 7/15 and would need them ASAP. But I never got them and had to postpone my lng awaited appointment with a new POTS doctor.

5th attempt: End of July. Called again to inquire...was told the records had been mailed to my old address AFTER I moved, so I never got them. I asked them to resend to my new address and they got attitude because my chart was so thick, and were mad because they had also received a request form the insurance company to send them there as well, so they had to make double the effort. But all in all they said they would resend them to my new home and nothing was mentioned about any fees being incurred.

6th attempt: August 9th, still nothing, called again and got hung up on by three different people. I was so fed up I decided to call the doctor himself (I had worked for him in the past so had his cell number). I waited until end of business day to call, and he yelled at me and hung up on me as soon as I told him why I was calling!!!!!! I will be honest, I was very mature and extremely nice considering the circumstances, but this floored me. I called back and told the receptionist NOT to hang up, I just wanted to know if they had been MAILED OUT YET!!! She then informed me that they couldn't send them because I hadn't paid the $10 fee...ooohhh I was so pissed. So today I mailed them a $10 check and overnighted it, along with a letter requesting the records for the SIXTH time.

I know this is long, but for those of you that read it, thank you for listening. Am I in the wrong here? Be honest...this is the worst treatment I have ever received by any medical staff anywhere, in my entire life. I am so excited to see a new doc, but can't do anything until I have my records and they get sent to my pending health insurance company for approval. I really think this office has no business being open whatsoever. I am definitely not out to "get" anyone but I really feel that this needs to be resolved. Is there any way that a formal complaint can be filed with the medical board? How about from a legal standpoint? I am a very nice, friendly, understanding person but this situation has angered me to the point of NO return. I had so many emergencies and situations over the years and nobody ever returned my calls, or anything. I just don't get it...

I am going to end this here, but if anyone has any thoughts PLEASE feel free to drop them here. Thank you!!

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I suggest a lawyer. It seems nasty, but by law they can't withhold your records. It is a federal offence. If a lawyer is completely out of the question, contact your states Advocacy Group, need help finding them, contact job service and/or vocational rehab. I had this trouble with one Doc in Iowa, one letter from our state Advocacy group and I had everthing I needed.

Don't be aafraid to be aggressive about it, they are your records. Just a note, the "delay" could be editing records. After my lawer got copies, we found many "changes" where being made to what my new Doc got. Mostly, many small comments had been edited, a little extra work on my part found a lot of "she needs a shrink type stuff".

Good luck, Blackwolf

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Once you have paid the fee (which they are allowed to charge for copying costs), your physician has "duty of care" to forward your requested records to your new doctor. When ever you have a situation such as this, all coorespondance should happen in writing. Should there be long delays in a reply which could jeopardize your medical care, you could try contacting the medical board in the state where the doctor practices. Just an FYI, in the future, your first request should be in writing, even if you fax it and then call to confirm receipt.


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Actually I did forget to mention that the two previous requests prior to the one made today were both in writing and I did call to confirm receipt- once by mail and once by fax, so I do have documentation of that, thank goodness.

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Wow. I'm sorry that you are having such problems obtaining your medical records. I understand that there are certain legalities and privacy acts, but you shouldn't have such a problem getting your own records. Definently keep records on paper of this kind of thing. Then if it comes down to you getting a lawyer you have proof. In Ohio there is the Legal Aid Society which offers free legal advice to those who can't afford it. Perhaps there is something like that near you. I guess i'm surprised that these people whom you worked with are treating you so shabbily. Stick it out, I know sometimes everything seems like a fight, but all they and everyone else is doing is making you stronger in the end!

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It really surprises me that I have been treated this way also, mainly because I had such an excellent repoire with everyone there! No hard feelings, nothing at all...I felt valued as a patient and an employee for a long time, even though the level of service has always stunk. It was like, once I stopped working there (which by the way, the office I worked in had closed down, it had nothing to do with me personally) that's when everything got worse. He claims to have closed my office because he was overextended, which is understandable, but it's as if it got so bad that they no longer cared about the objective at hand- to treat the patients like human beings. Hey doc...if it weren't for us, you wouldn't be where you are, or driving that fancy car around :rolleyes:

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I second what others have said here, Jessica. Definitely file a complaint with the state health board and/or seek legal advice. I know the latter may be too much $$ right now, but the state health board complaint is free. It may take a few minutes to write the letter, but it's necessary and worth it to prevent this guy from jerking around others.

Also, I wanted to warn you that you do have to be very careful, even on this Web site, with using specific doctor's names due to potential slander suits, liability and such. You might be better off e-mailing specific people on this board. I know that another Web bulletin board I use for health matters has had a similar issue and actually came up with a policy on this to use no doc's names. Maube I am being too cautious, but I would hate to see this wonderful site get a bad rap.

I so hope you get those records soon! and I hope Ethan hasn't been hiding in all of those boxes. :rolleyes:


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I sympathize with you Jessica. I once, however, had luck with getting records from my former insurance company. They had to have copies of a lot of pertinent info so they could pay claims. They didn't have everything, but it was better than nothing!

I think this does call for a letter from a lawyer, or a patient advocacy group at least.

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Well, the good news is that I talked to the board of medicine this morning and I found out that they can charge for the records, but cannot HOLD the records if I refuse to pay, they have to submit them within 15 days AND they have to notify me within 15 days if for any reason they are NOT releasing them, which they can only do in rare cases and does not apply to this situation. Soooo I wish I wiuld've known this the other day when they told me on the phone that they weren't sending them since I hadn't given them their $10. We will see how this progresses...

Amy- thanks for the reminder about mentioning the doc by name...I have tried to remain civil here for that reason, but trust me it's hard to do. My main purpose is not to badmouth anyone but to get my point across and get some advice on what my rights are, and you all have been a big help! I knew the posting my story here would help, since so many of you have been through this too!

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Amy is correct that caution must be used when mentioning anyone by name on this or any other board, and any public listserve. This is a publicly available forum and it's possible that non-members, including the people you might write about, could read what is here. Additionally, others might transmit your posts to the party you've been speaking about, such as via email, via fowarding links, via printing and mailing or hand carrying items to the person of interest. Keep that in mind any time you post.

What is libel? Essentially, it's the publication of false statemet of fact about an individual. So, if you're airing your personal opinion and state it as such, that is NOT libel, or if you start you statement with "in my opinion...". Or "so-and-so made me feel so frustrated..."

However, if you misrepresent an interaction that can be verified

, question a person's credentials, call them negligent, incompetent, etc., these are likely to be over the libel line--and set you and DINET at risk of a lawsuit. Michelle and I don't like having to edit or remove posts, but it's an unfortunate necessity in order to make sure this place is here for everyone who needs it.

As a board moderator, I can tell you that Michelle and I do our best to edit, lock or remove material that we feel could be a legal threat to the continuation of this forum, including libel. If you're not clear on what libel is, you may read this: http://www.ldrc.com/LDRC_Info/libelfaqs.html

I would like to add that personally, I feel strongly that this board needs to be a place where people feel safe to vent about how frustrating this illness can be and how maddening it can be to interact with the medical community. However, it's not just about venting--people here have been exceptionally generous with their time and suggestions toward REMEDYING such issues...and I hope that you will all continue to keep this a thriving and positive support venue.

Nina, Board Moderator

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THANK YOU NINA! I was having concerns myself about some of the postings I have seen. I have also been hearing from parents and children who check this forum and have concerns about the comments being made agaist their physicians.

I know many who see the particular physician that is being referred to and have received nothing but compassionate and quality care and services. His staff is currently very busy because his patient load has increased tremendously due to the positive reputation he has with treating dysautonomia.

People should be very careful about making negative comments on a public forum about a physician or anyone for that matter. Especially, if they previously worked for that physician and no longer do. Some people may think it borders on slander.

This particular physician treats many other patients with success and he has the respect of many in the dysautonomia field, including Dr. Blair Grubb. People should remember that what they post on a public forum has a much bigger effect than getting advice for themselves. Of course, people do already realize that. :rolleyes:

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You're welcome.

I still want people to feel comfortable posting here if they're frustrated -- there is nothing wrong with saying so. Whether or not a doctor's office is very busy, if you feel like your needs aren't being met, you should feel comfortable venting and trying to get advice on how to make things go better.

My personal suggestion to everyone is that, again, all requests or complaints to a physician regarding care, records, etc. should be done in writing. If that fails to get a response, send a second request via regular mail with return receipt. Never assume that a phone call will get you the desired response (with the exception that in a true emergency, you're doctor has a duty of care to respond, even if it's simply to tell you to go to the ER).


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Nina- thanks foryour post. I just wanted to clairfy that the purpose of this post was ONLY to get information on my rights as a patient, what I can do in this situation, and to vent about my frustration with the medical community. Never was there intention to point fingers at anyone- we all have the right to choose our care providers, and to expect only the best of care from them.

In reference to previous posts, information about this specific doctor was being asked by a board member, and I felt that I had the right to discuss my experiences, just as others were voicing their own.

Never has anything been said that was untrue against anyone- I am NOT that type pf person at ALL and would never intentionally hurt anyone. You all know that by now :rolleyes:

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First off, they are YOUR records, not the doctor's records. And, yes, you can file a complaint with the licensing board. They may or may not do anything though. Your only choice may be to obtain a lawyer, but that is a horrible choice because you end up spending alot of money because one person is being a moron. You can actually report everybody you talked to (the hang-ups, etc.). The nurses all answer to the board as well.

They are required to maintain good records and provide them upon request. This has lawsuit written all over it. Makes me wonder if they even have the records.

Good Luck.

I have never ran into this with any medical office where my wife's condition is concerned. I have ran into it in an unrelated situation and even with a court order, the doctor would still not release the records. We would have had to go to court and were warned that if she produced the records at that time nothing would probably happen to her. Nice system.

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I can't really offer any better advice on getting those records than others have already posted.

However, I never have this problem. Years ago, I got fed up with trying to get medical records from a particular doctor and decided never again would I have to struggle with this. Here is what I do.

Every time I have any kind of test blood test, x-ray MRI -- anything, I always get a copy of the report right there in the office, or if they give me test results over the phone, I ask them to send me a copy. If I have to write them a request form, I do it.

I also get copies of any letters any specialists have written to my doc about me. This one has been really educational. I have read things about myself that no one ever told me! When one doctor writes to another he/she often says things he/she did not say to the patient. You will also read how that doc perceives you personally. One specialist described me as affable and gnarulous. I had to look it up. He could have just said I was chatty. (Actually I was pretty quiet for me during that appointment.)

I am relentless in doing this. I keep everything filed according to kind of tests, i.e. blood tests, heart info, etc.

My folder includes portions of my hospital chart from when I had my gallbladder and appendix removed in 1972! It includes copies of all my routine eye exams.

The only thing I haven't done this for is the dentist. Looking in my mouth is probably all that is needed if I ever want to change dentists.

The last time I changed doctors which was about 4 years ago, I did not tell my last doc I was changing. I did not want that doc writing a letter to my new doc. I just went to see the new doc and gave that doc a folder full of tests and letters from the previous 3 years and added 3 charts I made myself. One shows all my current meds, dossages, and the reason why I take each one. Another is a listing of all meds I have tried in the past that I do not want to take again and the reactions I had to them. The third is a list of my diagnoses and symptoms. The new doc was glad to get this information so well organized.

Whenever I see a specialist, I just pull the appropriate records to take along and add an updated version of those three charts.

When I have film taken, I ask the technician to make me a copy to take with me. Sometimes this actually works. Often it doesn't, but I always ask.

Anytime I have film take at a different hospital other than the one I use regularly, after I get the report, I write or go to the hospital and check out the film. I never take it back. I keep it in the basement. I have a brain MRI, a chest x-ray, kidney x-rays, and several abdominal scans down there. Therefore if I want a different specialist to read them, I can send them to the specialist or take them along to the appointment.

I had a CAT scan and color Ultrasound of my abdomin read by a doctor in Japan to see if he thought I had the nutcracker syndrome. (He had written a paper on it in chronic fatigue and POTS patients.) I had a world class specialist in Diabetes Insipidus read my brain scan. I had my brain MRI read by Dr. Heffez in Chicago to have him look for chairi. I did all of this without even calling my doctor.

I have gotten letters from a couple of places telling me that the x-rays needed to be returned. I ignore those letters. It usually ends there. I think that films belong either at the local hospital or with the patient. Then they are actually available to look at whenever they are really needed.

I ONLY DO this for films taken at a different location than the hospital I normally use. If I cannot get actual copies of film from my regular hospital, I leave the originals there. This is valuable to me because they are kept in a folder for a number of years and any radiologist reading my current film can look back in the folder for comparison to older films.

I sometimes take film (from another hospital) that I am keeping at home along to an x-ray appointment at my regular hospital and request that the radiologist see it when he/she is reading the current film. This will work for sure if your doc orders a comparison to the patient's own film when he/she writes the order for the test.

I have learned a lot about myself that I never would have know had I just depended on my doc telling me "Your tests are fine." From insisting on reading all reports myself, I know that I have a small cyst in my brain, mild hyperinflation of the lungs, a cyst in my liver, and a host of other things that are usually covered by the blanket statement, "Everything is normal." Normal is good, but I want the particulars.

It is absurd for lack of records to hold up treatment or important health decisions.

Start collecting today as you go.

Also collect the past. Call the hospital records dept of any hospital where you have ever been treated or had film taken and request the records. Pay their fees, jump through their hoops until you get those records.

Call any specialist's office you have been to and get copies of any letters they have sent to your regular doc. Call any lab where you have had blood/urine tests taken and get those records. Get what you can from your regular Doc. Then file them in a way that makes sense.

When you have something so little understood as POTS, I think taking charge of your own records is even more important.

WHEW! Sorry that was so long. I feel so strongly about this issue that I got on the soapbox!

Michigan Jan

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Due to the federal law, HIPPA, passing, the doc must, by law, give you access to your medical records in entirety. I work at a hospital and we have had TONS of training since this law passed. Maybe the next time you call the doc's office you could mention this law because it is a huge deal right now and if any doc's office, hospital or healthcare provider is in breach of this law then they can get in big trouble. I am not a lawyer, but from all the training we have had at the hospital I know that they MUST give you access to your records. You can probably find more info on this law on the internet, but maybe mentioning this law to them will get you some action without having to hire an attorney. I am sorry that you are having so many problems with this.......I am sure you have enough things to worry about with just moving!! Good luck!


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Hi. Sorry to hear your story; it sounds like a sticky situation.

My POTS doctor is sometimes hard to get a hold of/get messages to. It's tough to get through his staff most of the time. That seems to be your problem on the first several attempts. Lousy staffing never helps. But in your case, there seems to be something more significant going on, especially since you called and spoke to the doctor personally.

You mentioned that you used to work there and therefore knew his number. What was the atmosphere like when you worked there? Why did you leave? It seems like there may be deeper underlying issues that are not being dealt with...I am just confused as to why he would start yelling at you.

I am a paralegal and there are a few instances where HIPPA and other legislation allows medical records to be withheld--not my field (I work in collections) but I would tread lightly on the grounds of taking legal action.

Anyways, I'm glad to hear that you're in Florida--it's great, isn't it? I used to live in Gainesville and I loved it.


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thanks for posting this topic....i am now seeing i have a lot more rights than realized...and i am sorry you are going through such a mess. i encounter such resistence every time i try to get records, that i don't stick to it. i don't understand why they won't give them or give you such a hard time...over and over again.

from all of the posts on this topic, it seems that this is not an isolated problem!

for those of you who write a letter...do you have some standard letter that you would mind sharing...i.e. do you put in that you know you have a right to your complete medical records? do you mention HIPPA, etc.? i am just wondering b/c some of you are having better success than i am.

i guess i don't understand why it is such a fight...most of the time the records i get are clearly incomplete...so then what? i specifically asked a cardiologists office for my complete records b/c he had referred me somewhere else...and she gave me such a hard time b/c there were so many pages in my file (something like 10 pages! :blink: good grief.

i find evern after making it clear that i want my complete record they act hostile and aggravated...even though it is their job.

just wondering if someone had a letter with the vital info set up in a way that they feel gets the job done! (i won't copy word for word or plagarize...just use it as an example!)

i guess the thing tha tbugs me the most is that it's not like we have all sorts of extra time and energy to spend on this stuff...nor do we need the stress.

oh, and how do you find out who the medical examiner is? just curious.

i am a little clueless on some of this stuff.

jessica..i am sorry your post brought up some forum issues...but i wanted you to know, that we do know you have a heart of gold.


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