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Arizona Medical Board
Arizona Medical Board
Official Website of the
Arizona Medical Board
The Board's mission is to protect public health and safety.


Please Note:Medical records can be extremely important to your care in the future. When physicians decide to retire or to change their practice, they usually send their patients a letter in advance to inform them and to explain the arrangements for providing them with their medical records. The best advice is to follow their instructions promptly to secure your records or to have them transferred to a new physician.

The Arizona Statutes about storing and providing patient access to medical records can be found at: http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/32/03211.htm&Title=32&DocType=ARS

 

I need my medical records from my former physician. What must I do to get them to my new doctor?

You must start by making a written request for your medical records. Your new physician may ask you to sign a records release form that staff will send to your old physician, requesting your charts. When a physician requests a patient’s records from another doctor for continuity of care, there is no charge.

 


What if I want to take possession of my medical records instead of having them sent to another doctor?

Again, you need to make a written request for them. The physician may have a release form for you to sign. If you request your records in a letter, you may want to include your date of birth for identification. State law permits a doctor to charge a “reasonable fee” for making copies of your records. The statutes do not provide any guidance as to what is reasonable, so it would be best to discuss this with the doctor’s office in advance of your request so that you are not surprised by the cost later

 


How long should it take for my records to be released?

State law does not specify how soon physicians must respond to written requests for medical records. Three weeks is sufficient time under most circumstances.

 


I haven’t seen my former physician in some time. How long will that doctor keep my records?

A physician must maintain the medical records for an adult patient for at least six years past the last patient visit. If the patient is a minor, then the physician must keep the records for a minimum of six years past the last patient visit or until the patient is 21 – whichever is longer. After that, the physician may dispose of the records appropriately.

 


I had surgery about ten years ago. Now I need those records. Where would they be?

Unless you have seen the surgeon sometime in the last six years, the records may no longer exist. Check with your current primary care provider, the surgeon’s office and/or with the hospital.

 


Where do I send the letter requesting my medical records from my former doctor?

Send the letter to the physician’s practice address located in his profile at this link: www.azmd.gov

 


I heard my doctor retired a while back. What do I do to get my records?

If the physician is no longer practicing, check his/her online profile at this link: www.azmd.gov. The address displayed in the profile is the address you should use to make your request. To make sure that someone receives your request, one suggestion is to send a certified letter.

 


Unfortunately, my physician passed away. Who has my medical records – the Medical Board?

If the physician was in a practice with other physicians, the practice may have retained your medical records. You should make your request there. The Arizona Medical Board does not store any patient records for dispersal.

 


I went to pick up my medical records from my old physician, and all he would give me were copies. Why can’t I have the originals?

A physician must maintain the medical records of his patients for six years past their last patient visits. The originals are his/her property; you may have copies.

 


I have sent the doctor a request for my records, and I haven’t received them. What do I do now?

If it has been longer than three weeks since the doctor received your request, first start by trying to call the office and politely requesting a status update on your request. If the doctor still fails to provide the records, you may file a complaint against the physician with the Arizona Medical Board. Please note that the Board may take an action against your doctor for failing to provide the records, but that will not ensure that the records are sent to you.

 


My doctor’s office tells me that because I have an outstanding bill that they won’t provide my new physician or me with my medical records until I pay them what I owe. Can they do that?

A physician may not withhold a patient’s medical records for non-payment of a bill, other than the copying charge.

 


Is my former physician required to give me all the records in his/her possession, or only those that were created since s/he began treating me?

Once a doctor establishes a relationship with a patient, everything in the chart – even those records from other physicians – become the patient’s complete medical record and should be provided to the patient upon request.