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Get copies of all your medical records.


When you have a chronic illness or disability, you want to keep a record of your medical treatment.

Most states have enacted laws that give patients access to their hospital and physician records. Patients may have more difficulty elsewhere, but no state specifically denies access to records.

Whether you move often, travel frequently, see doctors in other cities, or just like to keep your own medical records up-to-date, ask for copies of your files at the completion of each appointment. You will have to sign a release form because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), doctors, hospitals, and clinics are only allowed to give those papers/reports to the patient in person. The cost to obtain your medical records may vary from state to state.

Ask if your clinic, HMO, or hospital uses medical software like Epic's My Chart, that gives you freer access to your medical information. In whatever form, paper, online or in your computer, keep a copy of all medical documents in a central location and let your family know where they can be found.

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