This article explains how to correct VA medical records.
Everyone makes mistakes—even doctors. That's why you should always review your medical records to make sure everything is accurate.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) makes it easy to review your patient records with My HealtheVet, the VA's online records and communication platform.
Federal law specifically guarantees veterans the right to request a correction to their Department of Veterans Affairs medical record.1
Here is the official legal citation, linked to the text of the regulation:
► C.F.R. = Code of Federal Regulations
► 38 = Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief
► § = Section
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) spells out specific procedures for veterans to request a correction, called an "amendment" by VHA. The procedures also assign responsibility for making corrections to specific VHA personnel.2,3
Step #1. According to VA, you should send a letter: "... stating explicitly what information is in contention and why, i.e., inaccurate or erroneous, irrelevant, untimely, or incomplete."4
→ In plain language, tell VA what they got wrong, and what the record should say.
Step #2. If possible, include with your letter a printed copy of the doctor's note (or whatever the record is), and circle or highlight the sentence, paragraph, or other aspect of the record that is not correct.
Step #3. Include in your letter:
Step #4. If for some reason you cannot include a printed copy of the medical record, be as specific as possible describing the specific medical record with the mistake, such as the ...
Step #5. Sign your letter in ink. (continued below ...)
The image immediately below is a SAMPLE envelope. It does not refer to an actual veteran—I invented the name and address.
... 10 Steps to Correct VA Medical Records (continued)
Step #6. Make three copies of your letter, just in case you need them later.
Step #7. Address your letter to the Privacy Officer at your VA Medical Center (VAMC) or VAHCS (VA Health Care System) main facility.
You can try to find the Privacy Officer's name and an exact mailing address for him or her, but that often turns out to be an exercise in futility.6
Therefore, I suggest simply addressing your letter to "Privacy Officer" at your medical center's main mailing address. (You can usually find that on the medical center's website.)
Step #8. Send a copy of your signed letter to the Chief, Health Information Management Services at the same address.
Step #9. If you can, use a PRINTER to print the address on an envelope, so that the address is clear and easy to read. But if it will take a long time to find a printer, just hand-address the envelope with neat handwriting. It will still get there.
If you are not sure how to do that, go to the Post Office at a time when it is less busy and ask the clerk for help. You might tell the clerk you are a veteran as most folks like to help veterans, and many U.S. Postal Service employees are veterans too.
Certified Mail with Return Receipt services cost more—an extra $6.40—but are well worth it because you will have proof that VA received your letter.
Quick Summary: How to Correct VA Medical Records
» Type or neatly write a letter explaining VA's specific error(s) and how how their error should be corrected.
» Address your letter to the Privacy Officer at your VAMC or VAHCS, and send a copy of the letter to the Chief, Health Information Management Services.
The image immediately below is a SAMPLE letter. It is not a genuine letter—I made up the name and the doctor's note. To emphasize: the letter below is entirely concocted; I invented the name and address of the fictitious veteran.
Download Letter Templates
These templates look like the one above, and are designed to help you write a letter to correct VA medical records:
Letter Template (.txt) (text file) - download from my website's server
Letter Template (.docx) (Microsoft Word) - download from Google docs
Letter Template (.pdf) (PDF) - download from my website's server
Letter Template (Google doc) - download from Google docs
→ Note: Feel free to share these letter templates with other veterans. CC0 1.0CC
You should regularly review your Department of Veterans Affairs medical record for at least these seven reasons. Remember that the VA makes it easy to review your patient records with My HealtheVet.
1. Make sure you remember your doctor's recommendations, including anything you were supposed to do.
Example: "Am I supposed to fast for 12 hours before my lab test tomorrow?"
2. Double check the "dosing schedule" for your medications.
Example: "Did the pharmacy type this correctly on the label: 'Take two tablets twice a day, and then three tablets once a day'?"
3. Look up the name and dosage of a new medicine you're taking.
Example: "My private psychologist asked me the name of the new antidepressant I'm taking. I don't have my prescription bottle with me, but I can look it up on MyHealtheVet!"
4. Check lab test results.
Example: "I wonder if my cholesterol has gone down since I started this Paleo diet?"
5. Print out your medical records for a private doctor you will be seeing. (Or give your private doctor electronic access via Blue Button.)
6. Review your VA medical records before filing a VA disability benefits claim.
Example: "I started getting depressed after I was diagnosed with cancer - even before I started radiation treatments and chemotherapy. When did the my doctor get the results of that biopsy back? Was last November or even earlier?"
7. To double check notes entered into your medical records by VA nurses, psychologists, physicians, and other clinicians to make sure everything is accurate. The sooner you catch an error, the easier it is to correct it.
Example: "I had an intake interview with a VA psychologist. He wrote down that I had been clean and sober for six weeks, but it's actually been six months. He did not write down that I attend AA and NA meetings 5 days a week; talk with my sponsor at least twice a week; and that I finished my 5th Step two weeks ago. I think that information is important!"
If you have not read it already, see 10 Steps to Correct VA Medical Records (above).
Getting Started with Blue Button - Getting started guide.
Manage Your Health Records with My HealtheVet and Blue Button - Helps you understand the different types of reports you can download with Blue Button.
Three Ways to Check Your VA Lab Tests - Very helpful!
Blue Button FAQ - VA answers several frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Blue Button.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) offers a "Help Desk" (toll-free phone number) if you have questions about My HealtheVet; a My HealtheVet Help page with links to articles; and a comprehensive FAQ page.
My HealtheVet Help Desk
1-877-327-0022 | 1-800-877-8339 (TTY)
Available weekdays from 0700 to 1900 Central Time, which is:
If you don't have a computer or don't like to use them... Go to your local library's Reference Desk, and ask for help from a reference librarian!
Most libraries have computers you can use and the librarian can help you if you have any trouble using the computer or finding what you need.
Click here to open a Google Maps search for find local libraries. It works amazingly well, although you might need to expand or contract the map depending on your locale.
Or, if you're going to be going to your VA medical center anyway, stop by the My HealtheVet office where they usually have computers you can use, and they'll teach you what you need to know.
1. Amendment of records, 38 C.F.R. § 1.579 (2019).
2. Veterans Health Admin., Dep't Veterans Aff., VHA Directive 1605.01, § 8. Right to Request Amendment of Records, p. 26 (2016).
3. Veterans Health Admin., Dep't Veterans Aff., VHA Handbook 1907.01 § 26 Health Record Alterations and Modification, pt. b, no. 4 Amendment, p. 32 (2015).
4. VHA Handbook 1907.01 § 26, pt. b, no. 4, subpt. a ("Amendment is the alteration of health information by modification, correction, addition or deletion at the request of the patient or Veteran. A request to amend any data contained in VA health records must be submitted in writing to the facility Privacy Officer, or designee, by the patient or Veteran stating explicitly what information is in contention and why, i.e., inaccurate or erroneous, irrelevant, untimely, or incomplete.")
5. If you do not have a middle name, use "NMN" for "No Middle Name", e.g., John NMN Smith.
6. In my experience, VA medical center websites do not provide much information, and the search engine on all va.gov sites is abysmal. Another option is to try calling the VA medical center main phone number to see if the operator can find the Privacy Officer's name and exact mailing address. (I realize that it's hard to get through on the phone at some VAMCs.)
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