Legal tips

Getting the Dental Records

Obtaining a copy of the complete dental records is very important. When obtaining a complete and accurate copy of the dental records, a written request to the involved health care provider may be requested by the dental office in order to receive a copy of their records.

When making a request for such dental records, it is important for the patient or family member to review the original chart and compare it to the copies. This way, the copies can be verified to make sure that all of the records were in fact copied.

When making a request for records from a dental office, attention should not be called to the fact that the records are being sought for a potential malpractice claim. Most patients will tell the provider that the records are being sought for a second opinion dentist or to make sure that future dental providers are accurately informed about past dental history.

Most dental offices are keenly aware of requests for patient records that are made by a dental malpractice attorney. In fact, some dental offices have a policy of routing attorney requests for records through their risk management department so that a risk manager can review the records first.

For these reasons, and the potential fear of record alteration or loss of records, it is very important that the first request for records come from the patient or his/her family. Later, after the claim has been filed, the attorney can get a certified copy of the records which can then be compared to the ones obtained by the patient.

Keep in mind that certain types of records are not kept in the dental chart and must be specifically requested separately. For instance, the ledger and account history are usually on computer. It is also very important that all x-rays also be duplicated and obtained as well as progress notes, copies of prescriptions, copies of referral slips, etc.

A patient’s right to his/her dental/medical records in California is governed by Health & Safety Code § 123110.