Under Washington State law you have the right to examine and obtain copies of your medical records. The statute in part reads: “Patients need access to their own health care information as a matter of fairness to enable them to make informed decisions about their health care and correct inaccurate or incomplete information about themselves.” (RCW 70.02.005).
How to Obtain Copies of Your Medical Records
You must give your health care provider a written request to examine or to get copies of your medical records. Under state law, your provider must “as promptly as required under the circumstances” make the files available for you to look at during regular business hours, and provide a copy if requested. Generally, providers have 15 working days to make your records available to you. (RCW 70.02.080).
When A Health Care Provider Can Deny Your Request
In limited circumstances, your health care provider may deny your request to examine or get copies of your medical records. Under state law (RCW 70.02.090), your provider can deny your request when:
- They believe that the health care information would be harmful to your health.
- Knowledge of the healthcare information could reasonably be expected to lead to the patient’s identification of an individual who provided the information in confidence and under circumstances in which confidentiality was appropriate.
- Honoring your request could reasonably be expected to cause danger to the life or safety of any individual.
- The healthcare information was compiled and is used solely in a court case, for quality assurance, peer review, or administrative purposes.
- Access to the healthcare information is otherwise prohibited by law.
If a health care provider denies your request for any of the above reasons, they must try to separate the information they believe should not be released from that which can be properly released. Then make the information that can be released available to you. (RCW 70.02.090(2)).
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