Arizona has changed its medical records law to prevent patients from being denied access to their files, officials said.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law Monday requiring medical providers that shut down to transfer health records back to patients or to an entity such as the statewide health information exchange, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.
The exchange, operated by Health Current in Phoenix, enables Arizona hospitals and doctors to store and read many types of electronic patient files.
Health care providers who do not comply with the new law face a $10,000 penalty and the denial of future facility licenses.
Ducey said records should always be available to patients, even if the facility is relocating or closing.
The law is intended to avoid circumstances similar to those that affected Caitlin Secrist, who could not immediately undergo a pancreas removal procedure because a surgeon could not access her full medical history.
The 21-year-old college student's records were locked as part of a bankruptcy dispute involving creditors and the estate of Gilbert Hospital and Florence Hospital at Anthem.
More than 300 patients have requested medical records without success since the hospitals closed in June 2018, court records show.
Secrist requested her records for months before a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered the estate to release the files in February. She is now waiting for a medical team to complete a review.
"This shouldn't happen to anybody," said Secrist, who attended the signing with her parents. "Your records should be yours."