Arizona Board Board of Medical Examiners


Protecting the Public's Health
Arizona Medical Board
9545 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85258-5539   480-551-2700
(Toll Free Within Arizona: 877-255-2212)

The following is based solely on Arizona Law, is Not Comprehensive and

What authorization should I require before releasing records?

It depends upon who is making the request. To make records available to patients and health care decision makers, a physician usually must receive a written request. The statutes do not specify the content of the request except for the specific release required for all HIV information (A.R.S. § 36-664) and drug or alcohol treatment information. You should require proper authorization to release medical records from the patient, the minor patient’s parent, the patient’s legal guardian, or the patient’s authorized representative. There are instances where a physician may release medical records to third parties without the patient’s authorization (A.R.S. § 12-2294).


Are there any exceptions to the requirement to provide medical records?

Yes, but the exceptions are narrow. You must provide the records unless the attending physician or psychologist determines and notifies the health care provider in possession of the records that the patient’s access to the record is contraindicated due to treatment of the patient for a mental disorder as defined in A.R.S. § 36-501. “Contraindicated due to treatment for a mental illness” is not defined in the statute. You must use your professional judgment in determining whether a given patient fits within the narrow exception outlined in A.R.S. § 12-2293.


If a patient’s records consist of records created by me and records received from other physicians, must I provide copies of all records or only those records created by me?

A.R.S. § 12-2291(4) defines medical records as “all medical records held by a health care provider, including medical records that are prepared by other providers.”


How quickly must I provide copies of medical records once I receive a request?

You must make the records “promptly available” and it is unprofessional conduct under the Medical Practice Act to fail to do so. “Promptly” is not defined in the statutes, and what is prompt may depend upon the circumstances.


Can I charge for copies of medical records?

Arizona law (A.R.S. §12-2295) states that a healthcare provider or contractor may charge a person who requests medical records a reasonable fee for the production of the records. However, you may not charge the following people for medical records:

  • Another health care provider or contractor providing continuing care
  • The patient for the demonstrated purpose of obtaining health care
  • The health care decision maker or surrogate of the patient to whom the medical records pertain for the demonstrated purpose of obtaining health care
  • The Arizona Medical Board, an officer of the department of health services or the local health department.

What is the retention schedule for medical records?

If the patient is an adult, Arizona laws require that medical records be kept for at least seven years after the last date of treatment. If the patient is a child, medical records must be kept for at least seven years after the last date of treatment or for three years after the child’s eighteenth birthday, whichever is longer. (A.R.S. §12-2297)


What are my responsibilities if I move or retire?

You are still required to retain medical records according to the record retention statute (A.R.S. §12-2297). Additionally, you are required to notify the Arizona Medical Board of a change in address and/or telephone number within 30 days of the date of change. Failure to report a change of address can result in a $100 penalty.

Although there is nothing in statute that requires you to notify patients of an address change, there are guidelines available from several sources, including the American Medical Association, on this subject. For more information, see the Closing a Practice FAQ on the Board’s website.


What is not considered part of the medical record?

Any material that is prepared in connection with utilization review, peer review or quality assurance activities, including records prepared pursuant to A.R.S. § 36, 441, 36-445, or 36-2402; and record telephone and radio calls to and from a publicly operated emergency dispatch office relating to requests for emergency services or reports of suspected criminal activity.

Please note: These answers are meant as a baseline guide and are not an exclusive list of all the legal requirements regarding record retention and release. Please read the entire content of the statutes cited above and consult with your own legal counsel for proper legal advice in any given situation.

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