Forwarding the records of other physicians

July 24, 2000

Q. A patient is relocating to another state, and she's asked me to forward her records to her new doctor. In her chart, I also have copies of her treatment records from her previous physicians. Should I forward these records, as well?

Q. A patient is relocating to another state, and she's asked me to forward her records to her new doctor. In her chart, I also have copies of her treatment records from her previous physicians. Should I forward these records, as well?

A. No. Once you receive a written authorization from the patient, you may transfer copies of only the records you generated. Keep copies of your records, and of those forwarded to you by other doctors; they could assist in the defense of any claim that might be filed later. After all, your treatment decisions were likely influenced in some way by the patient's prior history.

However, releasing records originated by other physicians isn't permissible. It could constitute a breach of confidentiality unless the patient specifically authorized you to do so. Even then, it's best to tell the patient to ask her previous physicians to release those records, and to send them authorization forms.

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