So, you want to get your Pennsylvania medical marijuana card, but you can’t get your medical records, for some reason.
What do you do? Pennsylvania law requires that your medical records be taken into account when being evaluated for a medical marijuana card. Don’t panic if you can’t get a hold of them. You might still be able to get a card. We’ll walk you through this.
They don’t teach in school how important medical records are. As a result, most of us have only an inkling of what’s contained in our own medical records, never mind actually possess a copy of them. Also, quite often, people will jump from doctor to doctor without carting around medical records. The new doctor must then begin building a whole new medical file from scratch. And you can’t expect your health insurance company to maintain a full medical record. So, it’s 100 percent up to you to collect and archive your own medical records.
If you’re one of the many people who do not have a copy of your medical records, you have no choice but to start from scratch. “Now you tell me.” Well, now you know.
Unless there is some reason that it’s absolutely necessary that you gather all your past records, it’s best to just start a new file and tell your doctor everything you can remember from your past medical history.
Even if you do have a medical history with your current doctor, the problem now becomes actually getting a copy of your records. This can be a cumbersome process, especially if you have to deal with multiple doctors and hospitals.
When seeking a medical marijuana card, many find that their personal physician does not offer certification services. In this case, you’ll have to find another doctor that does.
Some practices will tell you that they will not provide you with a copy of your records or that it will cost you money — sometimes hundreds of dollars to copy everything.
Well, here’s the thing: They don’t own sole rights to your medical records. You paid for them to be compiled. They’re technically yours. Although medical practices are not required to hand over the original copies of the documents in your record, they are required to give you copies.
Some practices will offer to send your records directly to your new doctor. If that’s the case, you’re golden. But what do you do if that’s not the case?
How to get your medical records released
The federal law related to medical records is known as HIPAA — Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
To request your records, call your doctor’s office and ask for the health information management (HIM) department. Or just say you want to talk about getting copies of your medical records.
It will usually be necessary to fill out a form, sometimes called a “Patient Access Request.” Some practices offer Patient Access Request forms online.
If you’re a parent or guardian HIPAA allows you to complete patient access requests in the place of a patient.
The forms will often as you to specify exactly which records you would like copied. If you’ve been seeing the same doctor for decades, your medical record might be hundreds of pages long and there’s no need to cart it all around. If you’re not sure which records you need, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let them know that you’re making an appointment for a medical marijuana certification to help them narrow down the list.
Fulfilling record requests can take time. HIPAA allows providers 30 days to complete a record request. Most will fulfill a request within a couple of weeks.
Medical practices do have the right to charge fees to offset the labor involved in copying the records, but HIPPA sets limits. But they must provide you with copies regardless of whether or not you still owe them money for services received.
Often times you can have your records sent directly to another doctor for free. If you’re not comfortable carrying them around, or you don’t have the money to get copies yourself then this might be your best option.
What to do if you have trouble obtaining copies of your medical records
So, let’s say your doctor won’t release your records for some reason. All hope is not lost.
If this is the case, simply go ahead and make an appointment with us for a free medical review. We’ll discuss the issues you’re encountering and provide you with a free HIPPA form. Once that form has been submitted your doctor is required to release your records.
What to do if you have no medical history?
Unfortunately, under Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws we cannot act as your primary care doctor. However, if you do not have a primary care doctor and have not seen a doctor in the past, we can also accept referrals from counselors, therapists, and chiropractors. And if those are not an option we can refer you to a primary care physician for diagnosis and ongoing care.
Or…just let us deal with it for you.
If this is all just too overwhelming for you, don’t sweat it. The friendly and helpful staff at Compassionate Certification Centers will gladly walk you through the entire process. We’ll help you fill out your HIPPA form and contact your doctor’s office directly if need be.
Feel free to call us at 888-316-9085 or email any questions you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org.