The Guide to Getting & Using Your Health Records

You have a right to your health record — and it can help you take control of your health, well-being, and safety.

Learn How to Get Your Health Record

The Guide to Getting & Using Your Health Records is for patients, parents, and caregivers who want to get their health records. A health record (also known as a medical record) is a written account of a person’s health history, including appointment notes, prescriptions, treatments, tests, and vaccines. It’s also for people who need the record of someone they represent or care for, like a child, elderly parent, or an adult with a disability.

You have a right to your health record

A federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives you the right to see and get a copy of your health record. Most health insurance plans and health care providers — including clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, labs, and nursing homes — must follow this law.

Yet it can be a real challenge to get your health record if you’ve been cared for by multiple doctors in multiple places. Each one may have a different process for asking for and getting your record.

We’ll show you how to get your health record — and use it

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created this guide to help you through the process of getting your health record. We’ll show you how to make sure your records are accurate and complete — and how to use them to get the most out of your health care.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to:

Quick Quiz: HIPAA 101

How much do you know about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

True or false? HIPAA is a federal law that protects:

  • The privacy of your health information
  • Your right to see and get your health records

A is correct! HIPAA protects the privacy of your health information and your right to see and get your health record. To learn more, visit HHS.gov/HIPAA

Actually, the correct answer is A! HIPAA protects the privacy of your health information and your right to see and get your health record. To learn more, visit HHS.gov/HIPAA

When asking for your health record, you can request which of the following formats?

D is correct! According to federal law, your provider is required to provide you with a paper or an electronic copy of your health record. For more information, watch the video “Your Health Information, Your Rights.”

That’s right, you can ask for an electronic file. In fact, according to federal law, your provider is required to provide you with an electronic or paper copy of your health record. For more information, watch the video “Your Health Information, Your Rights.”

That’s right, you can ask for a paper copy. In fact, according to federal law, your provider is required to provide you with an electronic or paper copy of your health record. For more information, watch the video “Your Health Information, Your Rights.”

Actually, the correct answer is D! According to federal law, your provider is required to provide you with a paper or an electronic copy of your health record. For more information, watch the video “Your Health Information, Your Rights.”

True or false? Even if you haven’t paid your health care bills, your doctor must provide your health record.

A is correct! According to federal law, you are entitled to see and get your health record, even if you haven’t paid your health care bills.

Actually, the correct answer is A! According to federal law, you are entitled to see and get your health record, even if you haven’t paid your health care bills.

You are allowed to share your health record with:

E is correct! You can share your health record with anyone you want. Before you share your health record, consider taking steps to keep it secure. Learn how to protect your personal information.

That's right, you can share your health record with your doctor. In fact, you can share it with anyone you want. Before you share your health record, consider taking steps to keep it secure. Learn how to protect your personal information.

That's right, you can share your health record with your family. In fact, you can share it with anyone you want. Before you share your health record, consider taking steps to keep it secure. Learn how to protect your personal information.

That's right, you can share your health record with your lawyer. In fact, you can share it with anyone you want. Before you share your health record, consider taking steps to keep it secure. Learn how to protect your personal information.

Actually, the correct answer is E! You can share your health record with anyone you want. Before you share your health record, consider taking steps to keep it secure. Learn how to protect your personal information.