Obtaining Your Medical Records in West Virginia

June 22, 2022

You have the right to your medical records. Provisions under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and West Virginia Codes 16-29-1 and 16-29-2 guarantee this. However, the process of obtaining medical records can seem confusing to most people. Here, our Martinsburg medical malpractice lawyers want to discuss how you can go about obtaining a copy of your medical records from any health care professional in West Virginia.

Why You May Need Your Medical Records

The reality is that there are various reasons why you may need your medical records. First and foremost, they are yours. Any records that pertain to your health are important, and you may simply want them so you can go through them and keep track of the care you have received. Additionally, some other reasons why a person may need their medical records include:

  • They are switching doctors and need complete copies of the medical care they have received
  • They have been injured as a result of the negligence of a medical professional and are exploring a lawsuit
  • They are working to obtain a life insurance policy and need these records

Regardless of the reason why you need to obtain your medical records, both federal and West Virginia laws provide avenues to do so. Individuals can obtain their records from a primary care physician as well as any other health care provider in the state of West Virginia.

How to Obtain the Records

Individuals, their representative as defined under HIPAA laws, or their authorized agent are allowed to submit a written request with any health care provider in this state. The provider is required to furnish copies of the requested records within 30 days of receiving the request. The medical professional is allowed to provide a paper copy, or if it is requested, an electronic copy can also be provided in a downloadable format (if the medical professional routinely stores records electronically).

There are various exceptions to receiving these records. If a person is receiving treatment for psychological or psychiatric issues, a summary of the record must be made available if the patient or their authorized representative request one, but this can only occur after the treatment has finished.

Medical professionals and their offices do not have to provide these records for free. Health care providers are allowed to charge a patient or the patient’s representative a fee that is consistent with HIPAA laws, as well as any applicable taxes.

  • The fees for paper copies cannot exceed a search and handling fee of $20 and a per-page fee of $0.40.
  • The fee for electronic copies cannot exceed $0.20 per page, and cannot exceed $150 overall.

The vast majority of major medical providers in the state of West Virginia do provide online portals now. Typically, patients are given a code where they will be able to access their records online for free, though we completely understand that this can be challenging for those who have limited technological experience. We encourage you to turn to a trusted family member who can help you obtain these records, whether through your own online portal or by submitting a request to the medical provider in question.

You have a right to your records under the law, though sometimes obtaining records does seem burdensome. If you need your records to help with a medical malpractice lawsuit, or a potential lawsuit, please work with your attorney, who can act as your authorized representative and obtain these records on your behalf.


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