Wills Eye Hospital is committed to protecting your privacy. Accordingly, staff members treat your medical information in compliance with federal and state requirements. Medical records will not be released without a written authorization. For continued patient care directly to a physician's office or healthcare facility or in the event of an emergency, Wills may also request written authorization by the patient or responsible physician.
To authorize us to forward a copy of your medical record directly to a physician, you must complete the Authorization to Release Protected Health Information form available online or from our office, or a similar release form supplied by your healthcare provider. Usually this is limited to key documents in the record rather than copies of the entire record. In an emergency situation, your records may be sent to another hospital without authorization.
When you request your records, there may be a charge for photocopies. Please see the question below, "Do I have to pay for copies?" Patients may request access to view their medical information.
Frequently Asked Questions About Requesting Medical Records
How can I get a copy of my medical records?
To get a copy of your outpatient clinic medical records (office or emergency room visits), you must complete the Authorization to Release Protected Health Information form. Download and print the form or obtain a copy from our office. We will be happy to fax or mail a copy of the release form to you.
If you are looking for a copy of surgical or inpatient medical records, download and complete the Wills Eye Hospital Release of Information form. Fax number: (215) 928-3152.
A few important notes:
- The authorization form must be signed by the patient.
- The social security field is optional.
- Signatures other than the patient's must have documentation of authority to sign. A valid ID may be required.
- You can return the completed signed form in person or by mail. Our mailing address is: 840 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
- Please allow five to ten business days for processing.
Do I have to sign an authorization?
Yes. Your written request is required by law (MCC 333.26265). The request must be signed and dated within the past year unless otherwise indicated. Please note that you may revoke your authorization, in writing, at any time. This would not apply to any information already released.
Do I have to pay for copies?
The first copy of your medical record requested will be forwarded to you free of charge. If you submit a second request for a copy of the same medical record, there will be a charge to cover the photocopying costs. Wills sets fees in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines, which are updated January 1st of each year. Wills does not charge a fee for information requested by or for your physician for continuity of care.
Can you give me my medical information over the phone or by fax?
Since we are unable to confirm identity over the phone, we do not supply information that way. We can fax records to a physician's office or healthcare facility if needed for immediate patient care. It is not necessary for the patient be in the office when the fax is received – only that the patient has an appointment scheduled for some time that day or the next. Otherwise, copies of medical records will be mailed or held for pickup. Whenever possible, please request records far enough in advance to allow them to be mailed.
Additionally, please note that we are not clinical personnel and cannot explain test results
Do you accept faxed authorizations from other healthcare facilities?
Yes, as long as they are legible and they contain the required information in a valid authorization, which is:
- Patient's full name and date of birth.
- Name of the organization from which records are being requested.
- Name and address of the organization or person to receive the record.
- Specific information to be sent such as type of documents/reports needed, dates of treatment or medical condition.
Please Note: Drug and alcohol abuse treatment records, mental health records and/or HIV/AIDS information cannot be disclosed unless specifically authorized.
- Purpose for which the information may be disclosed.
- Expiration date or event.
- Signature of the patient or the patient's legal representative. If the patient's personal representative signs the authorization, the supporting legal documentation must be provided.
- Date the form is signed.
Who should sign a release of records for a minor?
Biological parents: With certain legal exceptions, biological parents have an equal right to a child's medical information. Access can be denied only if they no longer have any parental rights. We must have knowledge of the lack of parental rights to facilitate the denial.
Biological parents (never married): Unless otherwise ordered by the court, only the biological mother has the ability to sign the release of information authorization. However, an Acknowledgement of Paternity and the inclusion of the father's name on the birth certificate do provide the father with authority to release records.
Stepparents: Without an order of the court, stepparents do not have the necessary authority to consent to the release of a minor's medical records.
Adoptive parents: Adoptive parents must provide the consent for the release of a minor child's medical record, as the biological parents' parental rights have been terminated.
Minors: Pennsylvania law sometimes allows a minor to consent to his/her own treatment without parental consent. In this case, only the minor has the right of access to those treatment records.
Can a parent sign a release for a child who is 18 or older?
No. In Pennsylvania, in order to legally authorize the release of information, the patient would have to sign for himself/herself, unless the court appointed a legal guardian. Documentation of authority to sign for the patient must be provided.
How do I have someone else pick up my medical records for me?
There are two ways to facilitate a third-party pick-up:
- On the signed authorization form, specify that your records can be released to that person.
- Provide a letter with your signature, the date and authorization for this person to pick up your records. We must be able to confirm that it is actually your signature. We must also be able to confirm the identity of the person picking up your records.
How can my spouse get my medical records?
To obtain your medical records, your spouse must have valid authorization – signed by you or your legal representative – specifying that your medical records may be released to him/her.