As we move into the twenty-first century, it is unthinkable that people would be denied access to their own medical records. Indeed, 96% of Americans believe that the right to be able to obtain a copy of their own medical record is important, and 84% believe it is "very important." Yet for many Americans, no such right exists.
According to the Privacy Journal compilation of state and federal privacy laws, only 23 states give patients the right to view their own medical histories (see the boxed list). Despite the laws, however, even residents of these states sometimes find that their doctors deny them access to copies of their records.
According to the 1993 Harris-Equifax survey, most Americans (87%) believe that they "know everything" or "have a general idea, but don't know in detail" what's in their medical records. And approximately one in four Americans have asked to see the contents of their medical records. When they've asked to see it, 92% were able to get a copy. Of those who were denied this fundamental right, 31% were told