Getting your birth/medical records from your OB?

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BuckeyeK's picture
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Getting your birth/medical records from your OB?

So my midwives want me to get a copy of my medical records from my OB. Specifically, they want to see the records from my repair from my tear with DD2, they want to know what degree it was (they wouldn't tell me) and if it actually tore my cervix (I tore upward toward my cervix, but I don't know how far). I called my OB's office and told them I wanted my records. I told them I needed them because I'm going to use a different practice for my birth (I DID NOT tell them the practice is home birth). They seemed nice enough over the phone, and told me I just need to come in to sign a release and they will give them to me. However, I have read that often drs are very possessive of these records, even though they are legally mine. I'm concerned that they are just going to type up a summary and give me that (when I switched practices for my 2nd birth, I asked them to fax the records from my c-section birth to the new practice, and all they sent was a summary). So, I'm prepared to go in and fight with them a little. I just wondered if anyone else had experience getting their records, and if their provider gave them trouble. Are there any key terms I should toss around when I'm trying to get them to give me what I want? And advice on what I should ask for specifically? I don't want to make them to mad, because I do intend to go back to them for my regular yearly care once baby arrives.

I am planning on writing up my request and asking for:

1. Full medical records of DD1's birth (just because I'm curious)
2. Full medical records of DD2's birth - well, really just the repair because we didn't make it to the hospital for the birth
3. My latest bloodwork (my midwives just want to see it)

Is there any reason to ask for the records from my hospital stays also? I have a feeling they will either charge me a per page fee, or a flat fee for making copies.

Thanks!

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I belong to an HMO and all I had to do was fill out a form stating exactly what I wanted and they called me a few days later to say they were ready for pickup. I had to pay a per-page fee but it was very reasonable. My only complaint was that they included a bunch of pages relating to a bump on my forehead that I had removed; it had shown up during my pregnancy so it came up on that keyword search, LOL. When I pointed this out, they deducted those 12 pages from the total bill.

The American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics permits a "reasonable fee" can be charged for copying medical records, and it also says that records should not be withheld for an unpaid bill. Some states have defined what a reasonable fee is and/or have defined the period of time the doctor has to get the records together after a request. You can contact your state licensing board to find out what the regulations are in your particular state, this info might be on their website.

Also, you don't have to give them a reason for wanting your records. As you said, they're yours. Many women just want to know exactly what happened to them, what drugs they were given, how they reacted to those drugs, because they don't remember everything right after giving birth. I was so freaking itchy after Weston was born and I asked what they'd given me. They said, Duramorph, and I said don't give it to me any more. Had I not asked then, I might remember years later, perhaps when preparing for a different kind of surgery, that that med made me itchy & want to know what it was.

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I'm sorry, I'm stuck on this:

"BuckeyeK" wrote:

Specifically, they want to see the records from my repair from my tear with DD2, they want to know what degree it was (they wouldn't tell me) and if it actually tore my cervix (I tore upward toward my cervix, but I don't know how far).

WHAT? They wouldn't tell you what happened to your own body? WHY NOT? I really cannot comprehend this...

That said, I switched from an aggressive OB to a birth center (against her specific instructions) at 14 weeks. I was not afraid to make her mad, but I was afraid to have to have an awkward conversation, so I just told the birth center to request my records via fax. At my next appointment, they had them in hand. It was a total non-issue. Hopefully the same will be true for you!

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I agree I'd ask them to have the records faxed if it was me. As far as I know, the worst thing you'd have to do is sign HIPPA paperwork for the release of records from one place to another. I can't believe no one would tell you what was happening to your own body. That's insane.

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All this has changed in my lifetime. I find it fascinating....
Similarly things like different drinking fountains for different races etc have changed in my lifetime as well.

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For your DD1's birth info you'll want to request through the hospital. What my OB with Aiden has and what the hospital has is different. My provider requested my surgical report among other things for me from the hospital, but you can easily request those yourself (and might be a fee of course). Heard these are a fascinating work of fiction sometimes. I'm curious about what mine says from Aiden, but decided I don't want to know till after my VBAC since there's nothing concerning to my midwives as far as I know. Don't need to rile myself up so close. Wink

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"cactuswren" wrote:

I'm sorry, I'm stuck on this:

WHAT? They wouldn't tell you what happened to your own body? WHY NOT? I really cannot comprehend this...

Well, I asked while they were doing the repair and she was just very vague. She said either 2nd or 3rd. It was a tricky repair, I tore up the wall of my vagina toward my cervix, rather than the normal tear. I didn't even know this until I went in for my 6 wk check and she said I still had some stitches inside and she'd take them out. I probably should have realized this myself based from what they had to do in order to make the repair, but I had other things on my mind at the time....

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My obgyn also acted the same way. I had an episiotomy and asked how many stitches and she had a smart answer, "it's one continuous stitch" and wouldn't answer me....
reasons why I never went back.

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"cactuswren" wrote:

That said, I switched from an aggressive OB to a birth center (against her specific instructions) at 14 weeks. I was not afraid to make her mad, but I was afraid to have to have an awkward conversation, so I just told the birth center to request my records via fax. At my next appointment, they had them in hand. It was a total non-issue. Hopefully the same will be true for you!

I am getting ready to switch to a birth center and I am also nervous about getting my records. The birth center said I just need to sign a release and they will handle getting them for me. I asked if I would have to "break up" with my OB and they said no. Once they get the records, then my OB should take the hint. Do you have to be the one that gets them from the practice or can your midwife handle it for you if you just sign the paperwork? I know it might be a little different since it's a homebirth, but I wouldn't really feel like fighting for mine either even though like you, I would be prepared to if need be. Good luck! I hope they give you what you need without any issues.

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I went in today and they were actually very nice about it. I did not tell them I wanted the records for my homebirth, I just told them I was seeing a different practice during my pregnancy and would be back after delivery. We'll see what they actually give me when I pick them up on Friday.

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"alwayssmile" wrote:

For your DD1's birth info you'll want to request through the hospital. What my OB with Aiden has and what the hospital has is different. My provider requested my surgical report among other things for me from the hospital, but you can easily request those yourself (and might be a fee of course). Heard these are a fascinating work of fiction sometimes. I'm curious about what mine says from Aiden, but decided I don't want to know till after my VBAC since there's nothing concerning to my midwives as far as I know. Don't need to rile myself up so close. Wink

Thanks Jackie, this is good to know. I don't really NEED my records from DD1's birth, I was just curious to see what they say. I may go ahead and request the hospital surgical records, depending on what my records actually look like when I pick them up Friday.

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I've changed medical providers so many times over the last several years (and had insurance lie about what was on my record), that whenever anything significant happens, I request a copy of my records from the relevant provider and keep it in my own records. So I would recommend just requesting everything (do a little at a time, if money is a problem for it). That way you can run off a copy whenever it's needed. You'll also be armed if you ever have to fight for care.

The only problem with doing it this way is that a lot of doctors (and especially hospitals) treat a record request as a sign you plan to be litigious and will try to stall sending you the info. I actually had one office refuse to send me records, because the information was "confidential" and could only be sent to another medical professional. Go figure.

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"harper35" wrote:

The only problem with doing it this way is that a lot of doctors (and especially hospitals) treat a record request as a sign you plan to be litigious and will try to stall sending you the info. I actually had one office refuse to send me records, because the information was "confidential" and could only be sent to another medical professional. Go figure.

I thought that is what they might try to do to me, but they were actually good about it. They did want to know what medical provider I wanted them for, so I just told them the practice I saw during DD2's pregnancy (I have no intention of telling them about the planned homebirth). They are going to allow me to pick them up, I didn't want them faxed anywhere. I still suspect that I will just get a typed summary of the records I'm asking for, but maybe I'm just being overly cynical.

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Well, picked up my "records" today. They were less than I was hoping for (and my expectations were already low). I got my latest bloodwork, and a summary of my last appointment (my confirmation of this pregnancy). Apparently since I wasn't technically their patient during DD2's pregnancy, they 'don't have' (or won't give me) a copy of her delivery information. No explanation as to why I wasn't given DD1's info. I'm glad Jackie mentioned getting records from the hospital, because I went over there and requested all my L&D records. We'll see how much I actually get when I pick them up on Monday. Sigh.

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Ugh. Sad I hope you get more from the hospital side!

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I know all these places are scared of litigation, but it shouldn't be this hard to get a copy of MY OWN medical records that I legally have a right to.

Or maybe the drs could completely fill you in when they do stuff to you. I may not have gone to medical school, but I am not an idiot. I can handle knowing medical things about myself. I'll probably even understand most of it. :roll:

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How did it go with the hospital records?

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Sorry, I thought I posted an update? Maybe it got swallowed up in the internet or maybe I just thought about doing it and actually didn't :roll: Lol

Anyway, the hospital was great. They gave me a copy of everything they had, so I finally got the stuff I was looking for. Maybe the OB's office just didn't have what I really wanted? Would have been nice if they'd told me that up front, but it all worked out in the end.