Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

September 21, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Baltimore - In the latest issue of his Consumer's Edge newsletter, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. tells consumers how to obtain copies of their medical records. Consumers often need these records when they are changing doctors, moving, attempting to receive reimbursement from their health insurance provider, or are involved in legal action against a doctor or hospital.

"Obtaining your medical record can be a confusing process, but Maryland law has guidelines for both patients and health care providers to follow," said Curran.

State law gives you the right to obtain a copy of your medical records with a written request, within a reasonable time frame. You may be charged no more than 50 cents per page for having your records copied, and no more than $15 for retrieving and preparing them, plus the actual postage and handling costs. These fees, set in 1994, may be adjusted annually for inflation, and the fee limits do not apply to x-rays.

If retrieving mental health records, the circumstances may be more complicated. The doctor may decide the patient should not view his or her records, but the patient is entitled to a written summary of the records. Another doctor treating the same mental condition may see and copy the records.

Federal medical facilities, such as military hospitals, are not covered by Maryland law; however, patients are entitled to obtain their records under the Federal Privacy Act. Each federal agency has its own procedure for patient access to medical records.

If you have tried, but were unable to obtain your medical records, you can contact the Attorney General's Health Education and Advocacy Unit at toll free (877) 261-8807 for assistance.

Curran's office distributes The Consumer's Edge through more than 800 businesses, agencies, schools, and community associations. Groups interested in receiving a monthly issue should call 410-576-6956.