medical records?


New Member
Has anyone had a problem getting medical records or psychiatric reports on their difficult child? The first outpatient evaluation was no problem for me. I also have full records of another evaluation from a different psychiatrist. I went out of my way to get full medical records transferred to the latest psychiatrist and therapist from the psychiatric hospital. I then decided I should have a copy.

At first the therapist said he would have no problem sharing those records with me so I would not have to put in another request and wait many more weeks to get it. Then, he changed his mind and told me that the psychiatric hospital psychiatrist was the one to decide what records parents got, and that often they did not release everything to the parents. Given that, he decided not to share his copy with me.

I put in my request again to the psychiatric hospital for my own records, but now I am wondering why information would be withheld from a parent? Shouldn't a parent be part of the team, and isn't that information important to know? It irks me that I might get an incomplete copy for my records, but the psychiatrist and therapist have additional information that is being withheld and kept a secret from me. How can that be productive?


New Member

Of course, we don't have many "records" as of yet, since our true journey in all of this has just begun, but already it's been a huge battle.

Back when difficult child 1 was evaluated at age 3, we got a great HUGE report laying out all of their thoughts and findings and were given extra copies to give the school, etc. Awesome!

But, after difficult child's psychiatric hospital admit in March, we requested a copy of his records, because we were given NOTHING but a dischage slip listing the medications he was dischaged on and the units phone number and we were told the psychiatrist hadn't signed off on the records yet. Spoke to the psychiatrist and she said she thought she had (seemed a little ditzy when it came to paperwork) and we asked her to please visit Medical Records and be sure everything had been done so we could get a copy ASAP. To date, we STILL don't have a copy of the records and he's now been discharged from his second admit and we're still clueless. :frown:

Very frustrating.


No real answers to life..
Nervousness over lawsuits mean docs don't like to share what they have written down. This is just a guess, but I always had problems with getting records. The age of your difficult child's also could be a problem...they are still your responsibility, but they are of a "thinking" age and docs need to "cover their behinds".


Well-Known Member
That's likely a part of PRIVACY for the patient. I ran into not being able to get any kind of medical records on my daughter when she had a gyn treat her for an infection. WHAT??? WE had to pay the bill and see to it that she took the medications, but I couldn't find out why or anything else. Luckily, my daughter (15 at the time) shared it with me, but I was just out of luck where the doctor was concerned. I DO NOT understand how that could be effective at all when we have children who have a mental illness and need/want to do what's best for them. Our children have NO concept of what's really going on with their care and I feel like we have the right to know. Good luck getting ALL of it. You'll never know if you did or not. I'm sure the doctors aren't keen on you seeing all their little side notes.....afterall, the doctor might be suggesting that we, the parents, aren't helping a bit in the proper care of the patient. Grrrrr, can you tell this is a hot button with me??


member since 1999
Most likely, this is a function of the HIPAA law regarding confidentiality. In most states, age of consent is well below 18 for psychiatric treatment (in IL it's 12). This means that you have absolutely *no* right to psychiatric medical records for your child. However, if you can get kiddo to sign an "authorization to release information" to you, then you can get copies.

While the intent behind making age of consent so young was a good one (at-risk kids in abusive homes needing treatment but also truly needing that confidentiality), in practice it makes being the parent/guardian of a difficult child even more complicated. Our insurance company refuses to even discuss medical bills with- me anymore without thank you's "consent".


Well-Known Member
I wonder how insurance companies would like it if you said then thank you has to be responsible for his bills? It's SO ridiculous I can hardly talk about it......especially for children who are mentally ill. What could they possibly know about "consent"?


Active Member
It goes beyond the age of the patient. I think in this US medical practice and Australian medical practice sound similar.

I get on really well with my GP - I knew him back when he was a student. But he's been sticky at times over giving me access to files. He was stickiest when it involved letting me see what another doctor had written - not that that other doctor had written anything worrying, just that because he was showing me without the other doctor's permission, MY doctor could be in trouble for passing it to me. My GP has been badly burned by a former junior partner who screwed him over professionally, and I was gathering evidence on that same former junior partner to make a formal complaint over his mistreatment of both me and difficult child 3, so my GP reluctantly gave me access to the notes HE OWNED but which this other doctor had written.

My former specialist (since retired) wrote a rather unpleasant referral letter about me to another specialist at one time. While seeing the other specialist I was able to read the referral letter upside down across the desk and didn't like what I read. I felt I had been badly misrepresented and as a result, the second specialist had very strong ideas about what to do, which I disagreed with.

When next I saw my main specialist I tackled him about the letter. He told me that even though it was about me, it was private correspondence from one doctor to another and patients shouldn't read those letters because
1) we haven't got the medical training to fully appreciate the semantics of the language; and

2) we might read something and be needlessly distressed by it.

Basically, he said it was my fault that I was upset, because I shouldn't have read the letter. End of story.

However, I did argue that now I HAD read the letter we may as well discuss it, so we did. I tabled research papers on the topic that I'd dug up and pleaded my case. He finally conceded that he shouldn't have made a pronouncement outside his field of expertise without first checking with someone who WAS in that field, and at my request referred me to such an expert.
It was like him saying in the letter that I was a nut case, and me finally insisting on a referral to a psychiatrist to resolve it one way or another.

I continued on good terms with my specialist and when he retired, he handed me my entire file - his choice. So I can read ALL the letters if I want, including the many I sent him, arguing over his latest ideas. (I'm not an easy patient - background in health science makes me a nightmare for most medicos).

But in general - patient files belong to the medical practice. If my GP is only an employee of that practice, he isn't even entitled to copies of the file himself. As a result, when my GP has changed practices he's sometimes had to resort to stealing his own notes. In one case he handed me difficult child 3's files and slipped them in with my X-rays, then ushered me out the back door "because it's closer to your car and easier for you to get there on your crutches".

In Australia we can apply to view our files under Freedom of Information. But a BIG reason that doctors often prefer to keep files confidential - some doctors aren't too polite in their summary. I think we've all heard the case of a patient whose doctor described her as having "one functioning neurone, and even it's not synapsing properly."
Stuff like that is actionable.



Well-Known Member
I was told this about medical records vs psychiatric records.

You are totally able to get your medical records though you may be charged for copies of them.

You are NOT allowed to get your psychiatric records because they are considered to possibly contain sensitive information which could contain information which could cause someone to become upset. If a patient or guardian read something in those records and went off, then it just wouldnt be good.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
We are learning little tricks to get our records quicker! We told UIC who were dragging their feet getting our records from psychiatrist, just because of being busy people being sick etc... that we needed them for an upcoming SSI meeting. They put a rush on them!
I also tell anyone new that we are seeing that our pediatrician needs copies of records for emergencies, school meetings, whatever I can think of! Because we have a great relationship and she will make copies for me of anything!!!
They usually agree because pediatrician is the closest person to us, everyone else is quite a distance. You could say IEP meeting... whatever will help!

I figure this is kind of a game I am learning to play...

I also just read that in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC)/Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) or psychiatric hospital if they think your child is at all suicidal or mentions abuse... a lot of times they will keep the records from parents.

More games. Just some thoughts. Good luck.