How can I get medical records from 20 years ago?

Finding medical records from 20 years ago can be puzzling because your medical reports are kept in the archive by the doctor or the hospital for a period that depends upon the laws regarding that.

Well, most of the hospitals keep your record up to eight to ten years, so there are chances that your report might be preserved up to 20 years after the doctor-patient link. If you need these records for an emergency or any kind of situation, you should know where to ask.

This article will present you with a guide on how can you get your medical records if they are from 20 years ago.

Types of medical records you can request


Patients have the right to be provided the following reports:

  1. Transcripts of your doctors.
  2. Result of all diagnoses.
  3. X-rays
  4. Blood tests
  5. Genetic analysis
  6. Operations report

But to find those old medical records, you have to some research and hollow out at some places.

Finding the doctor from 20 years ago

There are a few ways by which you can find that doctor after 20 years and therefore you can reach your old reports.

Ways to get in touch 

  • Your medical society: Many of the sections of such institutions have a policy of yearly registration.
  • Health insurance company: They might have the doctor’s details even if they have no link with the doctor now.
  • Hospitals where your doctor practiced or worked: These hospitals can provide much information about your doctors such as work hours and contacts.

If you don’t get results from the above pointers, then you have to search from the scratch

  1. Reach to all the labs, specialists, and clinics you stayed in.
  2. Get to know about the health plans you availed by the insurance.
  3. Cross-examine the prescriptions or diagnoses report (if you have it).

Contact the doctor’s office

Ask if they are still having the hardcopy or a softcopy of your medical records. Some doctors manage to keep your files safe and silent for a long time and there are fewer chances that they throw those reports for a long time. If you are lucky enough, you can get the medical records from 20 years ago.

Ask your local health department 

You can always contact the local health department because generally when doctors retire or provide their old practices and records, they aren’t demolished. Those reports are carried to a storage area of your local health department. They might charge you a small payment for accessing your medical records from 20 years ago or older.

Request for medical reports

You can also file a medical report request and submit them to any hospital which might have your old reports. Most hospitals can provide you a form at their place or can be sent through email. But if in case they don’t provide any such paper then you can write your own report request letter.

Things that the request letter must have fulfilled

  1. Your Full Name
  2. Address
  3. Mobile Number
  4. Social Security Number
  5. Date of birth (DOB)
  6. Email
  7. Your requested reports
  8. Signature

After filing the request letter, it takes around 1 or 2 months to receive the old reports. It’s recommended to have a copy of the letter with the date and if there is no answer you can interact with the health department.

Not offered reports

Some records can be repudiated to show you and that to have a sensible reason. That mainly includes treatment related to mental health and this happens because if the reports are shared then there are chances that this can detriment the doctor’s link with the patient.

But in such situations, the reason why the reports aren’t shown should be written by the doctors with a clear clarification of the reason.

Lawful facts you need to know

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Account Act (HIPAA) states that the citizens have complete right to obtain the medical report either document or soft copy.
  • It’s the patient who can apply the request of the medical reports. But the HIPAA permits the patient’s parent or guardians only with the transcribed consent of the patient.
  • Some entities such as insurance companies, labs, universities, employers, nursing homes, etc. can request your medical reports.
  • If in case the doctor expires, the reports will be sent to known commercial storage that accepts the accountability to safeguard your records.
  • Such sensitive information should be secure but it can be sent via emails or apps.