Get Medical Records if a Doctor Is No Longer Practicing

An office assistant retrieves medical records.
An office assistant retrieves medical records. John Moore/Getty Images

Doctors don't stay in practice forever. Just like the rest of us, they change jobs, retire, move, or even die. If you can't find your doctor, it may be more difficult to get the medical records you're looking for.

Obtaining copies of your medical records can be a challenge, but it's possible to find them if you're persistent. There are a variety of steps you can take; some are easy and others rather difficult.

It all depends on what happened to your doctor's practice and records after they left.

If There Are Other Doctors 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

If your doctor's practice was combined with or purchased by another practice, then the new practice entity will still have your records. This applies even if your doctor is no longer there or if a group of doctors bought the practice. Follow the same protocol to obtain your medical records as if the doctor was still working there.

If Your Doctor's Practice Is Out of Business

If your doctor's practice closes and is no longer in business, you have three possible resources:

  1. Contact your local medical society. You may be able to look up the phone number online or in the phone book. You may also find the contact information you need through your state's medical society. 

    Someone at the medical society should be able to let you know what became of your doctor's practice. It is possible that they can find out where the doctor's records are being housed. They may also be able to tell you how to get medical record copies if the procedure varies from standard practice.
  1. If your local medical society doesn't have the information you need, contact your state medical society association. Again, a search for your state's association should give you results.

  2. Finally, if none of these possibilities work out, contact the hospitals in your area. Unless you can determine a better department, try Human Resources. They may know where your records are being kept or be able to direct you to the appropriate department.

    Retrieving and Copying Old Medical Records

    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 very likely will be charged for the copies you want.

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