Can a Doctor Withhold My Medical Records?

Can a Doctor Withhold My Medical Records?

A veteran receiving disability payments is alleging her doctor is breaking the law by withholding her medical records for nonpayment. The Air Force veteran began receiving disability benefits after being injured in 1979 after undergoing a Caesarean section. Beginning in 2005, this particular veteran on numerous occasions attempted to argue for an increase in her benefits. She recently won a victory in that the Board of Veterans’ Appeal agreed her injuries and level of disability warranted a greater disability benefit payment; however, the Board remanded (that is, sent back) her case to the veteran’s local VA office with instructions that the veteran provide additional documentation about the extent of her current injuries and disability. But when she attempted to obtain certain medical records from a doctor who performed a laparoscopy on the veteran in 2007, the veteran claims the doctor’s office refused to turn the records over due to an outstanding bill the veteran owed.

Withholding Medical Records from Patients is Illegal

Medical records are vital to a veteran fighting for disability benefits. The veteran must show objective evidence indicating that he or she has suffered a service-related injury and that he or she is disabled as a result of this injury. The VA will give little weight to the unsupported statements of the veteran; rather, the veteran’s complaints about symptoms and the extent of his or her disability are given credence where they are supported by a doctor’s observations. The most cost-effective way to present a doctor’s observations and conclusions regarding an individual veteran’s situation is through the veteran’s medical records. In the United States, any patient – including a veteran – has a right to access and obtain his or her medical records from a healthcare provider. Even if money is owed to the healthcare provider, the doctor’s office may not withhold a patient’s records.

Is There Anything My Doctor Can Withhold from Me?

The right to access one’s medical records does not include the right to access the doctor’s own observations that he or she may have recorded. These might include handwritten notes taken by the doctor during the course of making a diagnosis but that did not form the basis for the final diagnosis. Not only this, but doctor’s offices and healthcare providers may charge “reasonable fees” to cover the cost of copying the records and, if the patient requests, mailing these copies to the patient. (Note, though, that a healthcare provider may not charge a fee to search or look for the records.)

We’re Here to Help Our Nation’s Veterans

If you are a veteran who was injured while serving our country, the experienced team at the Klok Law Firm, LLC wants to help you get the veteran’s disability benefits you deserve. We have helped numerous other veterans just like you and can help you assemble the medical records necessary to prove your case. Contact us today at (843) 216-8860 for a free consultation.