Patients' Right to See & Copy his Medical Records
under California Law

Patient's right to get records from any health care provider or HMO Attorney's right to get client/patient's records from any health care provider or HMO Patient's right to get records from any agency, eg: Dept. of Managed Health Care

Health & Safety Code §§123100-123149.5

   Any patient or his representative is entitled to inspect his medical records during business hours, within five working days after making a written request, subject to payment of reasonable clerical costs. He may bring any one person with him. (HSC 123110(a))

   He is entitled to copies of his medical records, to be sent within 15 days of the provider's receipt of a written request, subject to copying costs of not over 25 cents per page plus reasonable clerical costs. ((HSC 123110(b))

   The provider may choose to send copies of x-rays and ekgs, eegs, or emgs to another health professional rather than give them to the patient. 15 day limit still applies. ((HSC 123110(c))

   Providers may not withhold records because of unpaid bills. ((HSC 123110(g))

   A health care provider may choose to prepare a summary of the record, for inspection and copying by a patient within 10 working days from the date of the patient's request, rather than allowing access to the entire record. (HSC 123130(a))
However, if more time is needed because the record is of extraordinary length or because the patient was discharged from a facility within the last 10 days, the health care provider shall notify the patient of this fact and deliver the summary within 30 days.

   Providers must save records for 7 years or till a minor reaches 19 years old, whichever is longer. (HSC 123145(a))

   Patients may submit a 250 word addendum of additions or corrections to the medical record, which must be kept and distributed with the record. ((HSC 123111(a))

   Any individual health care provider who willfully violates this chapter is guilty of unprofessional conduct. (HSC 123110(f))
Any institutional health care provider that willfully violates this chapter is punishable by a fine of not more than $100. Violation may also be grounds for suspension or revocation of the provider's license or certificate.

  If the HMO or doctor balks at providing the records, the first step would be to complain to the California Medical Board, (800) 633-2322.

   In addition the patient may bring an action against the health care provider to enforce these obligations, including, in the discretion of the court, an award of costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party. (HSC 123120)

Health & Safety Code §§123100-123149.5
Text of Statute

123100. The Legislature finds and declares that every person having ultimate responsibility for decisions respecting his or her own health care also possesses a concomitant right of access to complete information respecting his or her condition and care provided. Similarly, persons having responsibility for decisions respecting the health care of others should, in general, have access to information on the patient's condition and care. It is, therefore, the intent of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to establish procedures for providing access to health care records or summaries of those records by patients and by those persons having responsibility for decisions respecting the health care of others.

123105. As used in this chapter:





Any patient or representative aggrieved by a violation of Section 123110 may, in addition to any other remedy provided by law, bring an action against the health care provider to enforce the obligations prescribed by Section 123110.
Any judgment rendered in the action may, in the discretion of the court, include an award of costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.



123135. Except as otherwise provided by law, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to grant greater access to individual patient records by any person, firm, association, organization, partnership, business trust, company, corporation, or municipal or other public corporation, or government officer or agency. Therefore, this chapter does not do any of the following:

123140. The Information Practices Act of 1977 (Title 1.8 (commencing with Section 1798) of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code) shall prevail over this chapter with respect to records maintained by a state agency.


123148. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a health care professional at whose request a test is performed shall, upon a written or oral request of a patient who is the subject of a clinical laboratory test, provide the patient with the results of the test in plain language conveyed in the manner deemed most appropriate by the health care professional who requested the test. The test results to be reported to the patient pursuant to this section shall be recorded in the patient's medical record and shall be reported to the patient within a reasonable time period after the test results are received at the offices of the health care professional who requested the test.



Evidence Code §1158

If an attorney or his agent presents the signed record release authorization to the provider, even if no suit has been filed, the provider must make the records available within 5 days, or be liable for expenses and legal costs to enforce this section.

If the attorney hires a professional photocopier (per BPC §22451), or uses an agent (per BPC §22451(b)), the provider must let HIM do the copying.

There doesn't appear to be any prohibition on the attorney's agent being the patient!

The patient must pay reasonable costs including:

If the records are delivered to the attorney at the record custodian's place of business, the fee shall not exceed fifteen dollars ($15), plus actual costs, if any, of 3d party retrieval.

If the provider fails to comply with this section, CCP §1985.7 says that the patient's attorney can file an "Order to Show Cause" which the provider must answer within 20 days (or sooner if the judge is convinced the matter is urgent). The provider will have to pay the attorney's fees and costs for filing the order.

See THORNBURG v. EL CENTRO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, 143 Cal.App.4th 198, D047004, September 22, 2006

Evidence Code §1158
Text of Statute

1158. Whenever, prior to the filing of any action or the appearance of a defendant in an action, an attorney at law or his or her representative presents a written authorization therefor signed by an adult patient, by the guardian or conservator of his or her person or estate, or, in the case of a minor, by a parent or guardian of the minor, or by the personal representative or an heir of a deceased patient, or a copy thereof, a physician and surgeon, dentist, registered nurse, dispensing optician, registered physical therapist, podiatrist, licensed psychologist, osteopathic physician and surgeon, chiropractor, clinical laboratory bioanalyst, clinical laboratory technologist, or pharmacist or pharmacy, duly licensed as such under the laws of the state, or a licensed hospital, shall make all of the patient's records under his, hers or its custody or control available for inspection and copying by the attorney at law or his, or her, representative, promptly upon the presentation of the written authorization.

No copying may be performed by any medical provider or employer enumerated above, or by an agent thereof, when the requesting attorney has employed a professional photocopier or anyone identified in Section 22451 of the Business and Professions Code as his or her representative to obtain or review the records on his or her behalf. The presentation of the authorization by the agent on behalf of the attorney shall be sufficient proof that the agent is the attorney's representative.

Failure to make the records available, during business hours, within five days after the presentation of the written authorization, may subject the person or entity having custody or control of the records to liability for all reasonable expenses, including attorney' s fees, incurred in any proceeding to enforce this section.

All reasonable costs incurred by any person or entity enumerated above in making patient records available pursuant to this section may be charged against the person whose written authorization required the availability of the records.

"Reasonable cost," as used in this section, shall include, but not be limited to, the following specific costs: ten cents ($0.10) per page for standard reproduction of documents of a size 81/2 by 14 inches or less; twenty cents ($0.20) per page for copying of documents from microfilm; actual costs for the reproduction of oversize documents or the reproduction of documents requiring special processing which are made in response to an authorization; reasonable clerical costs incurred in locating and making the records available to be billed at the maximum rate of sixteen dollars ($16) per hour per person, computed on the basis of four dollars ($4) per quarter hour or fraction thereof; actual postage charges; and actual costs, if any, charged to the witness by a third person for the retrieval and return of records held by that third person.

Where the records are delivered to the attorney or the attorney's representative for inspection or photocopying at the record custodian' s place of business, the only fee for complying with the authorization shall not exceed fifteen dollars ($15), plus actual costs, if any, charged to the record custodian by a third person for retrieval and return of records held offsite by the third person.

Code of Civil Procedure §1985.7
Text of Statute

1985.7. When a medical provider fails to comply with Section 1158 of the Evidence Code, in addition to any other available remedy, the demanding party may apply to the court for an order to show cause why the records should not be produced.
Any order to show cause issued pursuant to this section shall be served upon respondent in the same manner as a summons.
It shall be returnable no sooner than 20 days after issuance unless ordered otherwise upon a showing of substantial hardship.
The court shall impose monetary sanctions pursuant to Section 1158 of the Evidence Code unless it finds that the person subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.

Civil Code §§1798.30 - 1798.55
Text of Statute

1798.30. Each agency shall either adopt regulations or publish guidelines specifying procedures to be followed in order fully to implement each of the rights of individuals set forth in this article.

1798.32. Each individual shall have the right to inquire and be notified as to whether the agency maintains a record about himself or herself. Agencies shall take reasonable steps to assist individuals in making their requests sufficiently specific.

Any notice sent to an individual which in any way indicates that the agency maintains any record concerning that individual shall include the title and business address of the agency official responsible for maintaining the records, the procedures to be followed to gain access to the records, and the procedures to be followed for an individual to contest the contents of these records unless the individual has received this notice from the agency during the past year.

In implementing the right conferred by this section, an agency may specify in its rules or regulations reasonable times, places, and requirements for identifying an individual who requests access to a record, and for disclosing the contents of a record.

1798.33. Each agency may establish fees to be charged, if any, to an individual for making copies of a record. Such fees shall exclude the cost of any search for and review of the record, and shall not exceed ten cents ($0.10) per page, unless the agency fee for copying is established by statute.


1798.35. Each agency shall permit an individual to request in writing an amendment of a record and, shall within 30 days of the date of receipt of such request:

1798.36. Each agency shall permit any individual who disagrees with the refusal of the agency to amend a record to request a review of such refusal by the head of the agency or an official specifically designated by the head of such agency, and, not later than 30 days from the date on which the individual requests such review, complete such review and make a final determination unless, for good cause shown, the head of the agency extends such review period by 30 days. If, after such review, the reviewing official refuses to amend the record in accordance with the request, the agency shall permit the individual to file with the agency a statement of reasonable length setting forth the reasons for the individual's disagreement.

1798.37. The agency, with respect to any disclosure containing information about which the individual has filed a statement of disagreement, shall clearly note any portion of the record which is disputed and make available copies of such individual's statement and copies of a concise statement of the reasons of the agency for not making the amendment to any person or agency to whom the disputed record has been or is disclosed.

1798.38. If information, including letters of recommendation, compiled for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for employment, advancement, renewal of appointment or promotion, status as adoptive parents, or for the receipt of state contracts, or for licensing purposes, was received with the promise or, prior to July 1, 1978, with the understanding that the identity of the source of the information would be held in confidence and the source is not in a supervisory position with respect to the individual to whom the record pertains, the agency shall fully inform the individual of all personal information about that individual without identification of the source. This may be done by providing a copy of the text of the material with only such deletions as are necessary to protect the identity of the source or by providing a comprehensive summary of the substance of the material. Whichever method is used, the agency shall insure that full disclosure is made to the subject of any personal information that could reasonably in any way reflect or convey anything detrimental, disparaging, or threatening to an individual's reputation, rights, benefits, privileges, or qualifications, or be used by an agency to make a determination that would affect an individual's rights, benefits, privileges, or qualifications. In institutions of higher education, "supervisory positions" shall not be deemed to include chairpersons of academic departments.

1798.39. Sections 1798.35, 1798.36, and 1798.37 shall not apply to any record evidencing property rights.

1798.40. This chapter shall not be construed to require an agency to disclose personal information to the individual to whom the information pertains, if the information meets any of the following criteria:

This section shall not be construed to deny an individual access to information relating to him or her if access is allowed by another statute or decisional law of this state.


1798.42. In disclosing information contained in a record to an individual, an agency shall not disclose any personal information relating to another individual which may be contained in the record. To comply with this section, an agency shall, in disclosing information, delete from disclosure such information as may be necessary. This section shall not be construed to authorize withholding the identities of sources except as provided in Sections 1798.38 and 1798.40.

1798.43. In disclosing information contained in a record to an individual, an agency need not disclose any information pertaining to that individual which is exempt under Section 1798.40. To comply with this section, an agency may, in disclosing personal information contained in a record, delete from the disclosure any exempt information.

1798.44. This article applies to the rights of an individual to whom personal information pertains and not to the authority or right of any other person, agency, other state governmental entity, or governmental entity to obtain this information.

1798.45. An individual may bring a civil action against an agency whenever such agency does any of the following:

1798.46. In any suit brought under the provisions of subdivision (a) of Section 1798.45:

1798.47. Any agency that fails to comply with any provision of this chapter may be enjoined by any court of competent jurisdiction. The court may make any order or judgment as may be necessary to prevent the use or employment by an agency of any practices which violate this chapter.

Actions for injunction under this section may be prosecuted by the Attorney General, or any district attorney in this state, in the name of the people of the State of California whether upon his or her own complaint, or of a member of the general public, or by any individual acting in his or her own behalf. 1798.48. In any suit brought under the provisions of subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 1798.45, the agency shall be liable to the individual in an amount equal to the sum of:

1798.49. An action to enforce any liability created under Sections 1798.45 to 1798.48, inclusive, may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction in the county in which the complainant resides, or has his principal place of business, or in which the defendant's records are situated, within two years from the date on which the cause of action arises, except that where a defendant has materially and willfully misrepresented any information required under this section to be disclosed to an individual who is the subject of the information and the information so misrepresented is material to the establishment of the defendant's liability to that individual under this section, the action may be brought at any time within two years after discovery by the complainant of the misrepresentation. Nothing in Sections 1798.45 to 1798.48, inclusive, shall be construed to authorize any civil action by reason of any injury sustained as the result of any information practice covered by this chapter prior to July 1, 1978.

The rights and remedies set forth in this chapter shall be deemed to be nonexclusive and are in addition to all those rights and remedies which are otherwise available under any other provision of law.

1798.50. A civil action shall not lie under this article based upon an allegation that an opinion which is subjective in nature, as distinguished from a factual assertion, about an individual's qualifications, in connection with a personnel action concerning such an individual, was not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete.

1798.51. Where a remedy other than those provided in Articles 8 and 9 is provided by law but is not available because of lapse of time an individual may obtain a correction to a record under this chapter but such correction shall not operate to revise or restore a right or remedy not provided by this chapter that has been barred because of lapse of time.

1798.53. Any person, other than an employee of the state or of a local government agency acting solely in his or her official capacity, who intentionally discloses information, not otherwise public, which they know or should reasonably know was obtained from personal information maintained by a state agency or from "records" within a "system of records" (as these terms are defined in the Federal Privacy Act of 1974 (P. L. 93-579; 5 U.S.C. 552a)) maintained by a federal government agency, shall be subject to a civil action, for invasion of privacy, by the individual to whom the information pertains.

In any successful action brought under this section, the complainant, in addition to any special or general damages awarded, shall be awarded a minimum of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) in exemplary damages as well as attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in the suit.

The right, remedy, and cause of action set forth in this section shall be nonexclusive and is in addition to all other rights, remedies, and causes of action for invasion of privacy, inherent in Section 1 of Article I of the California Constitution.

1798.55. The intentional violation of any provision of this chapter or of any rules or regulations adopted thereunder, by an officer or employee of any agency shall constitute a cause for discipline, including termination of employment.

1798.56. Any person who willfully requests or obtains any record containing personal information from an agency under false pretenses shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

1798.57. Except for disclosures which are otherwise required or permitted by law, the intentional disclosure of medical, psychiatric, or psychological information in violation of the disclosure provisions of this chapter is punishable as a misdemeanor if the wrongful disclosure results in economic loss or personal injury to the individual to whom the information pertains.

Civil Code §§1798.30 - 1798.55
"Information Practices Act"


   Everyone has the right to ask an agency whether it has records relating to him, and the agency has to help him make a proper request.

   The agency can't charge more than ten cents ($0.10) per page for copying the files.

   The agency has to allow the person or another person of his choice (specified in writing) to inspect all active files relating to him within 30 days of receipt of a request, or 60 days for stored or dispersed records. If they miss the time limit, it shall be treated as a denial of access.

   They have to mail copies of the files within 15 days of the inspection, in a reasonably comprehensible format.

   If the person finds errors in the records, he may request in writing that they be corrected, and within 30 days the agency must either make the correction and tell the person, or give reasons for refusing to do so, and tell the person how to appeal. That appeal has to be decided in 30 days. If they still refuse, they must let the person file a statement to be placed in his record.

   If some of the informants were promised anonymity, their names may be withheld.

   The agency doesn't have to disclose information on criminal matters, or if they determine that disclosure would be detrimental to the individual, but in that case it must be disclosed to a licensed medical practitioner or psychologist designated by the person.

   The person may bring a civil action against the agency if it fails or refuses to comply with record requests, or maintains false records which result in an adverse effect on the person.

   In any such suit he may seek an injunction to require release of the records, plus actual damages including mental suffering, plus attorney's fees and costs of suit plus a minimum $2500 punitive damages.

   The court may also issue an injunction against agency practices which violate this chapter, and such a suit may be brought by any member of the public.

   Suits may be brought in the county where the complainant lives or works, within 2 years from the date of the discovery of agency's violation.

  The intentional violation of this chapter by an officer or employee of any agency shall constitute a cause for discipline, including termination of employment.

  For requests from the Department of Managed Health Care, a form is posted at