If you are in the middle of trying to switch care providers, in preparation for or in the middle of pregnancy, or if you need to see a specialist, providing your medical records to your new provider will inform the whole picture of your health and care and help them manage and/or treat as needed.
How do I request records from my current office?
In Virginia, each office is allowed to have their own form, but this one here, at the bottom of this file on medical records, will allow your doctor's office to furnish them to you.
A faxed copy should work. You should be allowed to provide this information via fax, but because of HIPPA not over the phone and probably not via email. Your best bet is always to go into the office personally, to fill out the form so you can guarantee the date which it was received.
Will I have to pay for my own records?
In short, yes. As frustrating as it sounds, the records are legally the property of the practice who took them. Privacy laws are in place to ensure they cannot share them with just anyone, but they HAVE to share them with you, even if you have not paid for a service, they cannot withhold them. This is good news.
But it means the doctors offices have to provide staff to be able to get your records to you (or to your new care provider) within 15 days. This costs money, which is understandable, so in Virginia, they are allowed to charge the following fees for records:
- Search Fee- $10
- Pages 1-50- $0.50 per page
- pages 51+- $0.25 per page
- other film/media $1.00 per page
Will my records be complete?
According to § 32.1-127.1:03. Health records privacy act, your records must be released to you, upon your request, within 15 days, or you must be informed that they cannot find them.
They cannot keep your records because of payment of service. Meaning you can still have your records even if you have not paid for being seen by a doctor.
There is an exception to the law, that involves psychoanalytical notes. If it is deemed that reading something of a psychological nature will become detrimental to your mental health, they are not required to share those notes with you. This is not the case in most pregnancies, and is seen more often when people are institutionalized for severe mental health concerns. IN THIS CASE, all tests, bloodwork and physical notes must still be released to you.
When should I request my pregnancy records?
As of the publication of this article, according to the Department of Health Professions in Virginia, a provider has up to 15 days in Virginia to get your records to you after they have been requested.
The doctors I've talked to ask for 2-3 days prior notice with new patients, in order to keep the practice flowing smoothly. That way your first appointment can really be about your care, and not discovering your medical history.
This means if you are thinking you want to switch providers mid-pregnancy, you will want to request your records AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, knowing you'll possibly need almost THREE WEEKS to ensure your records arrive, and your new doctor or midwife has time to read them.