I’ve seen some people run into big problems when they think they have all their medical records…. but they don’t!
You know that piece of paper they hand you when you walk out of your doctor’s office?
Those are not your medical records! Those are visit summaries.
Or the document they hand you when you say “Can I have the record from today’s visit?”
Nope, that often is not your complete record.
Or those documents you see in your online doctor’s account?
These may not be your full records either!
The records often do not include treatment notes. Or they include part of your treatment notes but not everything your doc has written.
In the ideal world, you want to get your complete records with all treatment notes. For physical health you should always be able to request this.
When you request your records, they may charge you a fee, and they may also ask you to sign release forms. Hint: If they are not asking you to sign things and pay for things, that is a sign that you may not be getting your full records.
For mental health, some doctors will make it more difficult to access your records, but it is usually still possible. How to Get Psych Records
If a lawyer or Social Security is collecting your records for you, it’s a great idea to double check that they are all there. Sometimes a report can be missing the last few pages, or sometimes your file will have old records, but not the most recent ones, or sometimes your records will get put in someone else’s file.
Jim thought he had collected all his records and read everything and was all ready for his hearing. Then, after the hearing, he got a denial notice and it quoted all these things in his records that he had never seen before!! We would not wish this on anyone. Please get your full records if at all possible.
Cherry Blossom thought she had read all her records. Then she learned she hadn’t! Luckily, she took some steps to change things. Read Cherry Blossom’s story.