Doctors don't stay in practice forever. Just like the rest of us change jobs, or retire, or move (or even die), doctors may do that, too. If you can't find your doctor, it may be more difficult to get the medical records you're looking for. Here is how to get your medical records when your doctor closes his or her practice, or is no longer in practice.
If There Are Other Doctors Still Working In the Same Practice
If your doctor has left, but the practice is still operating, your records should be available through the practice. Follow the same protocol to request your medical records as if the doctor was still working in that practice.
If the Doctor Sold the Practice to a New Doctor (or Group of Doctors)
If your doctor's practice was combined with, or purchased by another practice, even if your doctor is no longer there, then the new practice entity will still have your records. Follow the same protocol to obtain your medical records as if the doctor was still working there.
If your doctor's practice closes and is no longer in business, you have four possible resources:
- Contact your local medical society. You may be able to look up the phone number online or in the phone book, or you may find the contact information you need through this list of medical societies in each state. You will need to drill down by state to your local society.
Someone at the medical society should be able to let you know what became of your doctor's practice, and will possibly know where the doctor's records are being housed. They may also be able to tell you how to get copies if the procedure will vary from the basic procedure described here.
- If your local medical society doesn't have the information you need, then contact your state medical society association, as per the list linked in #1 above.
- Finally, if the medical societies can't help you, then begin contacting other practices of the same specialty in your area. Some doctors will ask other practices of the same specialty to house their records when they close their practices. The idea is, that if your doctor is not in business any longer, then the other specialist might want to pick you up as a patient.
Simply call the office of each of the other same-specialty doctors and tell them, "I was a patient of Dr. ____'s. I am hoping to find my medical records. Can you tell me if Dr. _____ gave them to your practice?" If they say yes, then ask their protocol for getting your copies. If they say no, then ask if they know where those records are being kept. If they don't know, then call the next same-specialty practice and ask them the same question.
- Finally, if none of these possibilities work out, contact the hospitals in your area. Unless you can determine a better department, then try Human Resources. They may know where your records are being kept.
Keep in mind that when your records have been housed elsewhere, they will be difficult to retrieve unless they are among the minority of records that have already been transferred to an electronic health record. For that reason, you will very likely be charged for the copies you want. Learn more about how much you may have to pay for copies of your medical records.