Do I have a right to see my mental health records?

1. Ask for your health information in writing

Usually, a wants you to fill out a form or write a letter when you ask them for a copy of your health , but not always. It depends on what information you’re asking for.

For example, you might ask your doctor, “When did I see you last?” That information is in your health records, but your doctor may tell you the date without a written request. But you may need to give a written request if you’re asking for more detailed information.

If your health-care provider doesn’t have a form you can use to request your records, you can use this template or you can write a letter.

If you’re writing a letter, you must include details that help your health-care provider find the information you want. Some important details to include:

  • your name and contact information
  • your date of birth
  • your health-care provider’s name and address
  • details of the personal health information you’re asking for, such as the date when your doctor diagnosed you with a
  • whether you want access to the original, or a copy of the paper or electronic record

Include the dates on which you saw your health-care provider, if you remember them.

Deadline to respond

Within 30 days of getting your written request, your health-care provider has to do one of the following:

  • give you copies of your records
  • explain why they can’t give you the records you want
  • send a letter saying they refuse to give you the records

They can’t ignore your request if you didn’t include enough detail. They must ask you for any missing details that they need to find the information you’re asking for.

Your health-care provider can extend the deadline by another 30 days if:

  • the information you requested will take a long time to collect, or
  • they need to talk to other people about your request before deciding to give your records to you.

If your health-care provider extends the deadline, they must give you a letter explaining why.

Urgent requests

If you need your records in less than 30 days, tell your health-care provider. They must give you a response as fast as possible.

Your health-care provider may ask you for proof to show why your request is urgent.

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