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I had some dental x-rays and a teeth model with a previous orthodontist in Baltimore, and the records are stored in his office. I now live in New York.

In general, do patients have the right to receive their own medical records from their previous doctors? Do they have the right to receive their records for free by mailing, or do patients have to pay for the shipping fees? Is there some health-care law or policy regarding my questions?

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The main US law that governs patient access to medical records is called HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Here is a brief summary of the patient record provisions from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. There are further details, intended for providers, here.

In general, you are entitled to receive a copy of your records, or to have them sent to another doctor. But they can charge a reasonable fee to cover the costs of copying and mailing the records.

I am not sure how this applies to a physical model: whether the doctor would be required to send the original or to make a copy (which could be expensive), or whether it would be considered a "record" at all for the purposes of this law.

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