DISCLAIMER: This correspondence and discussion of this issue should not be construed as legal advice or representation by the TMA. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between you or any TMA employee. This unwarranted material is provided only for informational purposes. Should you require legal advice or representation, you should contact your personal attorney.
How do I obtain a copy of my childhood immunization (shot) records?
Shot records are physician/clinic specific. In other words, the physician or practice who administered the vaccines to you as a child is responsible for retaining and releasing the records to you. The physician or practice is only responsible for retaining and releasing the shots that you received at their facility. If you had child immunizations administered at various clinics/doctors then, in certain instances, you may have to contact each of them to obtain all of your childhood shot records. The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department will only have your immunization records on file if they administered them to you as a child. Neither the Health Department nor Memphis City Schools keep vast archives of childhood immunizations records, as many people are led to believe. Unlike most medical records that have a ten year retention time, childhood immunizations are to be retained / maintained indefinitely by the physician and/or the practice that administered the vaccines.
How do I obtain a copy of my medical records from a physician who is no longer actively practicing?
If the practice the physician was affiliated with is still operating, you should contact their office. Even though the doctor is no longer a member of their group, your records should still be on file with the facility. If the physician was in solo practice and another physician assumed his or her patient base when he or she retired or quit practice, then the physician who assumed the practice should have your medical records on file. If no one took over the practice, then the retiring physician should have the medical records stored / archived for a period of ten years (with exceptions – see the next question) after treatment. You may contact the physician directly, in writing. Please provide him or her with your name and the approximate timeframe you were under his or her care/supervision.
How long is a physician’s practice obligated to retain copies of my medical records?
The Board of Medical Examiners (BME) stipulates a ten year retention of medical records from the physician’s or his supervisees’ last professional contact with the patient. There are certain exceptions that include:
a. Immunization records shall be retained indefinitely.
b. Medical records for incompetent patients shall be retained indefinitely.
c. Mammography records shall be retained for at least (20) years.
d. X-rays and radiographs shall be retained for at least four (4) years after which if there exist separate interpretive records thereof they may be destroyed.
e. Medical records of minors shall be retained for a period of one (1) year after majority by minor or ten (10) years after the date from physician’s or his supervisees’ last professional contact with the patient whichever is longer.
f. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no medical record involving services that are currently under dispute shall be destroyed until the dispute is resolved.
I am delinquent in payment to my physician’s office. Can he/she withhold copies of my medical records until my account is current?
Physicians may not hold records “hostage” as a way of collecting treatment fees. The Board of Medical Examiners (BME) may suspend or revoke the licenses of physicians who violate this law or who refuse to release records for treatment fee collection purposes.
Once I request a release of my medical records, how long does the physician’s office have to provide them to me?
T.C.A. 63-2-101 requires physicians to furnish to a patient or a patient’s authorized representative a copy or summary of the patient’s medical record within ten (10) working days of a written request by the patient or such representative. Failure to comply with this law may result in disciplinary actions from the Board of Medical Examiners (BME).
Is a physician allowed to charge me for the release of my medical records – if so, how much?
T.C.A. 63-2-102 requires the party requesting the patient’s medical records to be responsible for the costs of copying and mailing such records. Reasonable costs shall not exceed twenty dollars ($20.00) for records forty pages or less in length, fifty cents per page for each page copied after the first five (5) pages and actual mailing costs if applicable. (Updated costs as of January 1, 2010)
Where / to who may I report a physician for what I feel is unethical or inappropriate business practice or medical conduct?
State Board of Medical Examiners
Tennessee Department of Health
Office of Investigations
227 French Landing, Suite 201
Heritage Place Metro Center
Nashville, TN 37243
Will the Medical Society accept a complaint on a physician and if so, how does your grievance process work?
Yes – However the physician must be a member, in good standing of both The Memphis Medical Society and Tennessee Medical Association. We request that a letter outlining the grievance me sent to the Society. Once the complaint is received, we will then present it to our Grievance Committee for review. After reviewing the information, they will make a determination as to whether the complaint is valid. If it is found to be justifiable, they will attempt to mediate and resolve the dispute.
I would like to file a complaint against a hospital? Does the Medical Society handle such grievances?
No – Complaints against a hospital or other healthcare facility should be directed to the State Department of Health, Division of Health Care Facilities at 1-800-778-4504.
I would like to find out additional information about a physician I am currently or potentially going to see. How can I determine where the physician went to medical school, did his/her internship or residency if he/she is board certified, etc?
This information can be obtained through the State Board of Medical Examiners Office for Licensing Health Care Professionals. You may either phone the agency at 1-800-778-4123 or go online to http://www2.state.tn.us/health/licensure/index.htm . Type in the last name of the physician, the state code (TN) from the dropdown box and select “medical doctor” from the “profession” category.
I am seeking pro bono healthcare for myself or a family member who does not have medical insurance. Are there agencies in Shelby County (the metro Memphis area) that provide these services?
Note – The following is a partial listing of healthcare services for uninsured patients in Shelby County. Patients should contact the clinic first to make an appointment and determine financial eligibility to be seen. Many clinics have a backlog of several weeks.
Church Health Center
1196 Peabody Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
Hours: Monday – Friday 7:30 am up to 9:00 pm
Closed on Wednesday 12:00 to 4:00 pm
To become a CHC patient, you must live in Shelby County. Adults must be working and uninsured. Children and adults over 65 may also be seen. Proof of income, proof of address (a bill) and a picture ID required.
Quick Care – HealthLoop
(The HealthLoop has 11 locations in the city. Phone 901-515-5000 for other clinic sites)
8080 Madison Avenue at the Med Plex
Memphis, TN 38103
Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 am until 10:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am until 6:00 pm
Fees: Services are offered on a sliding fee scale for uninsured patients. Proof of income, proof of address (a bill) and a picture ID required.
Christ Community Health Services
Broad Avenue Health Center
2861 Broad Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
Frayser Health Center
3124 North Thomas Street
Memphis, TN 38106
Third Street Health Center
3362 South Third Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Hours for all locations are Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Appointments are encouraged, but not necessary. Walk-ins are accepted daily for primary care and obstetrics services at 7:45 am and 12:30 pm. For dental services, walk-ins are accepted on Monday only at 8:00 am.
Memphis Health Center (main site)
360 E. H. Crump Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38126
Hours: Monday 8:00 am – 9:00 pm, Tuesday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fees: Services are offered on a sliding fee scale for insured and uninsured patients. Proof of income, proof of address (a bill) and a picture ID required.
I am attempting to obtain a copy of a birth certificate for an individual born in Shelby County? How do I go about doing this?
Individuals born in Shelby County can get birth certificates at the Vital Records Department’s East location. The Vital records East location can provide birth certificates of persons born in the State of Tennessee from 1949 to the present. Birth certificates cost $7.00 for the first copy and $4.00 for each additional copy. Individuals born prior to 1949 must obtain a copy of their birth certificates at the Health Department’s main office at 814 Jefferson Avenue. The East office location is located at:
6590 Kirby Center Cove
(corner of Kirby Parkway and Winchester)
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
I am attempting to find a physician with a unique specialty (colorectal surgery, pediatric urology, etc.). Are there online resources that you would recommend other than the Society’s physician search?
UT Medical Group’s website provides a very advanced physician search tool. However, keep in mind that it is limited to doctors associated with UTMG. Please visit their website at http://www.utmedicalgroup.com/pages/sitemap.html and select the “physician directory” link.
Approximately how many physicians are there in Memphis?
There are approximately 1,638 individuals with a license to practice medicine in Shelby County.