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Home > Health Plan Problems? > Health Records

Health Records

Doctor holding medical chart

Your doctor's office keeps a medical record of your health information. Some patients also keep a personal health record for themselves.

There are laws that protect your personal health information.


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Medical records

Your medical record is your health information that is kept by your doctor and other medical providers. 

  • Your doctor uses your medical record to make decisions about and keep track of your care. 
  • Your providers have to keep medical records to meet their licensing or certification requirements. 
  • Your medical record may be a paper record or an electronic record (or a combination of both). 


Electronic health records

An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of your medical chart and other information that your doctor keeps. This information is sometimes also called an electronic medical record (EMR).  


HIPAA and patient privacy

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and California law give you rights to: 

  • Ask to see and get a copy of your health records.
  • Have corrections added to your health information.
  • Receive a notice that tells you how your health information may be used and shared in the future.
  • Decide if you want to give your permission before your health information can be used or shared.
  • Get a report on when and why your health information was shared.

Visit the California Office of Privacy Protection website for more information about your rights.

Also view the California Office of Health Information Integrity website for more information about privacy laws.


Your right to get a copy of your medical records

Your right to see your medical records or get a copy of your records from your doctor is California law (Health and Safety Code sections 123100 - 123149.5).  

  • You must make a written request to your doctor to get a copy of your medical records sent to you.
  • Your doctor must provide the copies to you in 15 days after receiving your written request. 
  • Your doctor can charge a fee for the copies. They can withhold the copies until the fee is paid.
  • Learn more about your rights to your medical records on the Medical Board of California website.


Personal health records

Some patients like to keep track of their own health care by adding information to a personal health record (PHR). 

  • PHRs are secure online services to help you take control of your own health.
  • A PHR is information that you keep yourself.  
  • Check with your health plan and doctor to see if they offer a PHR tool. 
  • Some PHRs let you download your test results and other information from your electronic health record.
  • Learn more about using a PHR...



California Office of Privacy Protection

California Office of Health Information Integrity

Medical Board of California


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