Access to Medical Records. What Are My Rights?

Each year I request and review hundreds of hospital and physician medical records in Pennsylvania as part of the work I am doing, be it for automobile accident victims, those who’ve applied for Social Security Disability benefits, etc. As you might imagine, I am often asked by clients about access to their own medical records – that is whether they can obtain the medical records on their own. There are rules that govern access to medical records, and I want to discuss the law of Pennsylvania as it relates to such access here.

The Pennsylvania law indeed gives patients the right to access their medical records. This law is found at 42 Pa.C.S.A. 6155. The law allows a patient (or his designee, often, but not always, a lawyer) to obtain medical records “without the use of a subpoena.” Additionally, the healthcare provider may not charge a patient (or his designee) a fee in excess of the amounts set forth in the law. These amounts vary from time to time, but currently they are as follows: “$20.62 for searching for and retrieving the records, $1.39 per page for the first 20 pages, $1.03 per page for pages 21 through 60 and 34 cents per page for pages 61 and thereafter for paper copies or reproductions on electronic media whether the records are stored on paper or in electronic format; $2.04 per page for copies from microfilm; plus the actual cost of postage, shipping or delivery.” Section 6152(a)(2)(i). No other charges for reproduction are permitted without prior approval. The facility or physician may ask you to sign a request and/or release form(s) at or near the time of your request so they have something on file which documents and identifies your request, who asked for the records, and other relevant information.

Having noted that you have the right to access your own records, you should also be aware that your medical records actually belong to the doctor or facility who keeps them. The American Medical Association’s rules state as much. AMA Ethical Rule E-7.02. However, you should be able to obtain copies, so long as you pay the going rate(s) as indicated above.

The Pennsylvania personal injury and social security disability lawyers at Trinity Law can assist you if you have any issues obtaining your own records. Contact Trinity Law’s attorneys at for assistance today.