Do patients have rights to request operative notes from a surgery?

Do patients have rights to request operative notes from a surgery? I had an umbilical hernia repair last year and requested my surgeons notes and reports and I was told by the receptionist that she needs to get permission to release the surgery notes to me. Is that typical? I kind of got a feeling of them hiding something. It could be paranoia- I watch way too much Grey's Anatomy. I'd like to have this info to share during consultations with P.S. because I'd like to have a tummy tuck done.

Doctor Answers 16

Do patients have a rights to request operative notes form a surgery?

Thank you for your question.  It may seem like you were given the run around but there are specific laws and regulations that require one to have a written request and proof of identity before any medical records can be released.  The records can only be released to the person requesting them unless there is an additional release that says it can be given to someone else.  Good luck.

Peabody Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Acquiring operative notes

It is required that your medical record be available to you only with your written permission. This may take a number of days get the records pulled and copied for you. Doctors offices will have different policies about how they get released, and I certainly think it is appropriate for the doctor to review the note prior to that release.

Ira H. Rex lll, MD
Fall River Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 46 reviews



You have a right to request a copy of your operative note. It is also common practice in the office to inform the doctor so he can make sure the note released reflects that which was done. Once in while the note is not in the chart and needs to be retrieved from the hospital or surgery center. 

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Records release

The short answer is yes. You have a right to your records. But, you may have to jump through a hoop or two to get them, and a short delay doesn't necessarily mean the office is being suspicious. 

In the 1990s, the Healthcare Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPAA) was passed, and among other things, it set rules about maintaining patient privacy with regard to medical records. Offices have to ensure the records are released to the right person, so some offices have a policy that a written request is needed. Also, your physician may have a policy of reviewing records before they are released to ensure all relevant documents are included. 

If you run into delays, the plastic surgeon you see can always send over a written records request (it's routine of offices to do this). Finally, if you really do have trouble getting your records, you might consider contacting the hospital or surgery center where you had your surgery directly. You can always at least get the operative report.

Dana Goldberg, MD
Jupiter Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Do patients have a rights to request operative notes form a surgery?

Yes, you do have a right to your medical records and this request should be made in writing.  That said, the authorization for release of a medical record must come from the doctor who is the custodian of the medical record.  A receptionist isn't usually authorized to release the records, without notifying the doctor of the request first.  I don't believe the receptionist was trying  to hide anything, she was probably following the doctor's normal protocol for records release.  Best wishes, Dr. Lepore. 

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Records Release

A written records release is required for copies of your medical records.  There are HIPPA laws that have to be followed.  Give the office a couple of days to get everything together for you.

Robert E. Zaworski, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Do patients have rights to request operative notes from a surgery?

Thank you for your question.  Operative notes are part of your medical record, and can be released by your surgeon's office to other specialists at your request.  You will need to provide the office with a signed letter permitting them to release your records.  

Nelson Castillo, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

You need to follow office procedure

More likely than not, the office has privacy forms that need to be completed before your records are released. You likely will need to sign a release then give the office a couple days to get copies made.

Robert Frank, MD
Munster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Your medical records are yours!

You have every right to your medical records. No need for paranoia! Your doctor is required to have you sign a medical release in order to give you the documents, but they are entirely yours.

I wish you the best.

Dr. Gabbay.

Joubin Gabbay, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Do patients have rights to request operative notes from a surgery?

I appreciate your question.

Yes you can request your medical records no problem from your surgeon.  You just need to sign a release form and they will give them to you.

The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam.
Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative plastic surgery.

best of luck!

Dr Schwartz

Jaime S. Schwartz, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.