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My Coast Guard
Commentary | March 28, 2024

“Where are my healthcare records?" Recent updates make it easier to submit, track your request

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Senior Writer

If you’ve been waiting to get your healthcare records, help is on the way. 

The Coast Guard has ramped up staffing and established a priority system to deal with a backlog of requests for copies of medical records. The goal is to ensure that members with the most urgent needs – such as retirees who must provide these records to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) – receive their documentation first. 

What do I need to do?   

The process for requesting a copy of your medical records hasn’t changed. You need to contact your servicing clinic by phone or email. But now, your request will be assigned a priority as follows: 

  • PRIORITY 1: Records for members who have separated or retired from the Coast Guard. 
  • PRIORITY 2: Records for members who are expected to separate from the Coast Guard within 180 days. 
  • PRIORITY 3: Records for members who are not within 180 days from separating from the Coast Guard.  

If you’ve previously filed a request for copies of your medical records, your request has already been assigned a priority level. You can contact the paper records prioritization team with questions or to check on the status of a request at  

Why is it taking so long to get my records?  

You may remember the Coast Guard began transitioning to electronic health records (EHR) in 2020. This will ultimately make your medical information easier to access. Medical providers at military treatment facilities and VA clinics will be able to view your treatment history with a few clicks. When you retire, your records can be automatically delivered to the VBA.  

In the interim, the transition to EHR has posed several obstacles. Although the service is in the process of collecting paper medical and dental files from clinics and sick bays, the digitization of records is ongoing and experiencing multiple delays. This is in part due to the need to ensure accuracy and the integrity of the process in keeping with Privacy Act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates. We anticipate and are tracking toward completion at the end of the year.  

When members make a request, their documentation can’t simply be printed from the system or pulled out of a file at the clinic. Instead, staff must locate the paper copy in the repository and ensure that HIPAA standards and requirements are met.  

“We underestimated how long it would take to go over each record individually,” said Lt. Cmdr. George Cabanas, who manages the program. “Now that we have a Reserve team to get us through the backlog, we anticipate actually being ahead of requests by early summer.” 

Can my doctor still view my records? 

Providers have always retained the ability to view a patient’s medical and dental history through local digital copies, assuming the patient returned all records to the clinic. If you have a doctor’s appointment or need to undergo a procedure while you’re waiting for copies of your records, your physician will be able to view your full medical history.  

Additionally, a job aid has been provided to all clinics to assist members with obtaining a copy of their records when separating or retiring from the Coast Guard. As has always been the case, clinics remain responsible for acting on records requests; see ALCOAST 315-23 for further guidance on this process. 

What happens to my original health records?  

After verification that the correct information was digitized, the original paper copies of your records are permanently stored by the Coast Guard at a central repository.  

“The message here is that your records are safe and sound,” Cabanas said. “And we now have a more robust plan in place to get them to you as quickly as possible.” 


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