Check it

Explore these tips on how to make sure your health record is accurate — it’s your right.

Providers need complete and accurate information to provide you with the right care. Once you get your health record (also known as a medical record), look it over to make sure that all of your health information is complete, correct, and up to date. This is important because you may have forgotten to tell your health care provider something or they may have forgotten to write it down. The staff in your provider’s office are busy people who make mistakes just like everyone else. Some examples of common errors:

If you don’t check your record, you won’t know these mistakes have been made, and they could impact your future health and treatment. Explore these tips on what kind of mistakes to look for - and what to do if you find one!

It’s important to check it!

Nearly 1 in 10 people who check their online health record ask to have a mistake corrected.

Source: ONC Data Brief 40 [PDF - 1.7 MB]

What kind of mistakes am I looking for?

You’re looking for mistakes or out-of-date information that will affect how your health care provider diagnoses and treats you, whether your provider can contact you, and how you’ll be billed. You can let typos go, but if a mistake can affect your health or your bank account, it should be fixed.

Check your personal information, including:

Check your health information, including:

Check your medical bills:

Make sure you’re only being charged for services you’ve received. You can do this by comparing the information in your health record with:

Frequently Asked Question

Some of my older records are missing — can I get them?

Yes, if they still exist. State laws determine how long a health care provider must keep your health records — and it varies from state to state. Some providers archive (store) older records offsite. If you haven’t been to your provider in more than 5 years, your records may have been put in storage — but you still have the right to get a copy.

What do I do if something is incorrect or missing?

If you think there’s a mistake in your health record, you have a right under the HIPAA Privacy Rule to ask your health care provider to fix it.

If you want to have a mistake fixed, follow these steps:

Step 1

Step 1:  Contact your provider

Contact your provider’s office and find out what their process is for updating or correcting your health record. They may ask you to write a letter or fill out a form. If they have a form, ask them to email, fax, or mail a copy to you.

For more information about how to contact your provider, see How do I get started?

Step 1

Step 2:  Write down what you want fixed

If your provider has a form, and you want to fix a simple mistake, fill out the form and attach a copy of the health record page where you found the mistake.

If your provider doesn’t have a form or if the mistake is complex, you may want to write a letter describing the correction. Make sure you include:

  • Your full name, address, and phone number
  • Your doctor’s, nurse’s, or provider’s full name and address
  • Date of service
  • A short, specific, and clear explanation of what needs to be fixed and why
  • A copy of the record page where you found the mistake

Step 1

Step 3:  Make a copy of your request

Make a complete copy of everything you’re sending to your provider for your own records.

Step 1

Step 4:  Send your request

Depending on your provider’s processes, you may be able to deliver your request different ways:

  • Secure email through your patient portal
  • Non-secure email (your personal email)
  • Fax
  • Mail (standard postal service)
  • In person

Note: If you want to send your request by email, you’ll need to attach digital copies (PDF files) of the record page where you found the mistake and the request form. Messages you send through your patient portal are secure, which helps protect your privacy and personal information. But your personal email isn’t secure, which makes it easier for someone to view or steal your personal information.

Troubleshooting Tip

Find out who needs to fix the mistake

Make sure you address your request to the specific doctor or other provider who made the mistake. It will be their responsibility to fix it. Note: Your doctor or provider may have retired or changed practices. If this is the case, the clinic, office, or hospital can tell you who should take care of your request.

Frequently Asked Question

I make health care decisions for my child, a family member, or another adult — can I ask to fix something in their health record?

Yes. If you legally make health care decisions for someone else, the process is the same as fixing a mistake in your own record. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, a person who is legally authorized to make health care decisions for someone else is called a personal representative. Health care providers are not required to respond to requests from caregivers who are not personal representatives. If the person is someone other than your child, the provider may ask to see a copy of your medical power of attorney (or other legal paperwork showing your authority) before responding to your request. Get more information on personal representatives.

What happens after I request a correction?

Your health care provider has 60 days to respond to your request, unless they ask for an extension (extra time). Here’s what you can expect:

If your provider agrees there’s a mistake in your health record, they’ll update your record and send you a notice — either in your patient portal or via email or mail — that they’ve taken care of it.

If your provider does not agree with you, they’ll send you a denial notice that should include:

What do I do if my provider doesn’t agree with my request?

If your health care provider does not agree with you that there is a mistake in your health record, you can:

Frequently Asked Question

What do I do if I can’t understand something in my health record?

Medical words and abbreviations can be confusing for us all. If you don’t know what something means, ask your health care provider. You can also use the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia to find out what medical terms mean and look up abbreviations and acronyms at MedlinePlus.