How to write a medical record release letter

Written by audrey farley
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How to write a medical record release letter
Many health care providers are digitising medical records, making them easier for patients to access them. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

In 1996, President Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, most commonly known as HIPAA. This act prevents doctors and health care providers from releasing your medical records to a third party unless required to produce those documents pursuant to a subpoena duces tecum request. However, you can request your own records at any time, though you may have to pay a retrieval fee and/or copying costs for the records.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Contact the doctor's office or health care facility where records are kept. Ask for the medical records department or representative. You must submit your letter directly to this department or representative, as other staff may not be permitted to handle records requests involving protected information.

  2. 2

    Ask the medical records department or representative if you are required to sign an authorisation form. Some health care providers require you to complete a specific form instead or in supplement to your letter requesting release of records. Also ask if you are required to prepay for the medical records copies. If so, request a page count so that you can enclose a check with your request letter.

  3. 3

    Address your letter to the contact person you have identified. In the letter, identify yourself (or the person whose records you are requesting) by full name, date of birth ad social security number. Also specify the dates of records you are requesting. If you do not specify specific dates or a date range, the facility may produce your entire medical records history and charge you for copying costs. Also indicate whether or not you want billing records.

  4. 4

    Specify where records should be mailed. Provide a physical address, as many medical records departments ship records via certified mail or through a postal carrier that requires a signature to confirm receipt. Some medical records departments will not mail records to a post office box.

  5. 5

    Sign the letter and, if required, enclose the signed authorisation form provided by the health care facility. If you are not the patient whose records are being requested, include a copy of the legal document verifying your right to request the records on the patient's behalf. For instance, this document may be an "Attorney-in-Fact" or "Estate Administrator" form, which certifies your authority. If you are a parent requesting documents for a child under the age of 18, you do not need to submit any such forms.

  6. 6

    Enclose a check, if necessary, for exact amount of copying costs.

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