How confidential are medical records

How to request your medical record

1. What do I need the file for?

Do you want to get an idea of ​​your therapy in peace, are you moving or changing doctor? Even when a doctor retires, many patients request their medical records. It is often also necessary for a medical report or for evidence from an insurance company.

2. Am I entitled to it?

From a legal point of view, one thing is clear: Patients are allowed to view the patient's records (with the exception of personal comments from the doctor) and take them home with them as a copy - "immediately", according to the legislature. "The formulation leaves room for maneuver," admits Lepold. When making your request, specify a time frame that the doctor can use as a guide.

3. When can the doctor deny me access?

If the attending physician has to fear that a patient will be harmed by reading the file, he may refuse the request. This can be the case with a psychiatric condition such as psychosis. Or if the papers contain confidential data about third parties, such as a hereditary disease. "The doctor must justify his rejection," emphasizes patient advisor Storf.

4. What does it actually say?

Every doctor is obliged to precisely document all information about the disease and the treatment of the patient. Whether it is a consultation, therapy recommendations, doctor's letters, laboratory findings or x-rays: "The patient file must always be up-to-date," emphasizes Frank Lepold. Subsequent corrections are only possible if the original content remains clearly visible and the date of change is included.

5. Do I get the originals?

No, but the patient is entitled to copies or electronic data carriers, which he has to pay for. The doctor can give the patient original x-ray images (but only as a temporary loan!) In order to avoid further x-ray examinations. In the age of digital recordings, however, it is no longer necessary to borrow the original images.

6. How long will my health data be kept?

For at least ten years. If a doctor sells his practice or retires, he must ensure that the documents are properly locked away.

7. Do relatives get insight?

No, unless the patient gives his express consent. After the death of the patient, next of kin and beneficiaries (present certificate of inheritance!) Can ask for insight. However, a patient can expressly stipulate that in the event of death no one is allowed to look at his or her medical records.

8. What do I do if I am denied access to the files?

Submit your request a second time. You should do this in writing now at the latest. Address your cover letter to the doctor's practice or to the administration of the clinic. "Refer to the existing legal situation," recommends patient advisor Storf. If the request is unsuccessful, contact independent patient advice centers or the German Medical Association.