Your Rights to Your Dental X-rays

In Connecticut, you have a legal right to x-rays like these.

You have a right to your x-rays!

We are a modern, tech-savvy dental office providing no-pressure quality dental care in Orange, CT. Because of this, we’re busy. We’re growing. We get tons of new patients.

Quite frequently, a patient wants to transfer to our office. But they run into roadblocks in their attempts to get their dental x-rays sent to us. This is just not right!

We often have to educate patients that their radiographs belong to them. No office should be withholding them. See below for details on your legal rights to your x-rays.

Your Rights to Your Dental X-rays in Connecticut

We went straight to the source – Connecticut General Statutes on Medical Records. We’ll summarize the key points:

  • Any dental patient may request, in writing, a copy of his/her dental records. This includes dental x-rays. The office must provide the records (except under certain conditions, see bullet #2). From CGS § 20-7c(c).
  • A dental office can only withhold this information if a dentist believes the information could be detrimental to the patient or result in the patient causing harm to him/herself or someone else. From CGS § 20-7c(d).
  • An office may charge up to $.65 per page to copy records, as well as appropriate charges to duplicate x-rays. Note that most good dental offices are digital and will not charge to email x-rays. From CGS § 20-7c(c).
Photo of money - your x-rays cannot be held hostage if you owe money.

An office CANNOT refuse to give you your radiographcs over an unpaid bill or an outstanding balance. Image courtesy Flickr Commons.

Note that even if you owe the office money, they cannot refuse to release your records. This is a common tactic used by corporate dental chains owned by Wall Street firms. They cannot use an outstanding balance as an excuse!

What to Do if an Office Refuses

It is highly unfortunate that some offices do this. We’ve seen this most frequently with corporate offices such as Aspen Dental who offer free cleanings and x-rays. They just don’t want you to go elsewhere! Here’s what to do:

  1. First, ask them politely, either by phone or in person.
  2. You will likely have to fill out a specific HIPAA compliant form authorizing the release. You can fill it out in person or you can fax it or even scan it and then email it. A phone call or email request alone is NOT sufficient. This has to do with HIPAA – see below.
  3. If they refuse, you should politely tell them that CT General Statutes requires them to release the x-rays. If that doesn’t work, you can also indicate you plan on calling the CT Department of Public Health to file a complaint.
Corporate Dental Chains like Aspen Dental often refuse to release x-rays

Many Corporate-Owned dental chains like to illegally deny access to your x-rays.

In one instance, a new patient of ours wanted to get her x-rays from Aspen Dental. When the Aspen Dental receptionist refused, our patient took out her cell phone and began videotaping the interaction. Guess who then got her radiographs immediately?

Note that an office has up to 30 days to respond to the request. But most good offices will gladly respond within 48 hours.

A Note about HIPAA

HIPAA is the acronym for the law passed in 1996 that is responsible for the myriad of forms and signatures that are shoved down your throat at every physician, dentist, or hospital visit.

While the intentions of the law are good, it results in a huge burden for offices and patients. But please note that due to HIPAA requirements, you have to fill out a form authorizing the release of your x-rays.

References

A primer on your rights to x-rays written by an attorney with the CT Office of Legislative Research.

About Nicholas Calcaterra DDS

Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra provides gentle and personalized dental care in our state of the art office in Orange, CT, with a special focus on IV Sedation. He is passionate about dentistry and enjoys using this website to educate and inform patients. He practices with his wife Dr. Carla Calcaterra.

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