Pretty on the inside
October 15, 2006 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Can I have my x-rays?

I have a fractured bone in my foot and recently had a few sets of x-rays done. I want them. I've always thought x-rays were beautiful. When my foot has healed, and the doctor has no use for the x-rays, am I allowed to take them home? I'd like to get lots of x-rays of me and my friends, frame them and hang them on the walls. I would bet a hundred bucks that there's SOMEPLACE out there on the internet that sells x-rays, but I don't want strangers' x-rays.
posted by Evangeline to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps I'm stating the obvious here, but ask the doctor.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2006

people scan them and post them to flickr a lot, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to get them. in the meantime, if you need a x-ray fix, google image a few of them, or browse flickr
posted by matteo at 1:12 PM on October 15, 2006

When I broke my coller bone I asked for the x-rays and got them, just tell the doctor you would like them and see what happens.
posted by Iron Rat at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2006

You may be too late, if you're hoping for old fashioned film. More and more radiology departments are going to digital x-ray technology, to reduce the costs of x-rays, and increase their utility, by making the resultant digital files widely available to doctors and caregivers at distant sites in real time. You benefit by improved medicine, lower cost, and maybe even lower x-ray radiation dosages, and the hospital benefits by lower media and storage costs.

But your lovely-in-the-abstract bone injuries may just be bits on a hard drive somewhere, never even turned into hard copy anywhere, but called up on high res computer screens as needed for diagnosis and treatment.
posted by paulsc at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2006

i had some xrays taken in January; they charged me $14 for copies.
posted by sonofslim at 1:29 PM on October 15, 2006

Though as I recall the national version has been kicking around impotently in Congress for around a decade now, many states and credentialing bodies (AMA, APA, etc.) have adopted their own Patient's Bill of Rights. Most of these include provisions stating that patients have the right to request and recieve copies of any and all medical records related to their treatment. Surely this would cover your x-rays. Google 'patients [bill of] rights [YOUR STATE] or [YOUR HOSPITAL]' and see what you find.
posted by ChasFile at 1:39 PM on October 15, 2006

hm. Patients' Bills of Rights. Right? That's alot of s's. Weird.
posted by ChasFile at 1:41 PM on October 15, 2006

You may get a copy of your radiograph. The doctor/hospital will be required to keep the radiograph (in some form) for a number of years, depending on what state they practice in and what professional bodies they belong to (and also their insurance may have some requirements). You may not relieve the doctor/hospital of their only copy of your radiographs.

Malpractice suits and all.
posted by bilabial at 1:43 PM on October 15, 2006

I asked my orthopedic surgeon if I could have an x-ray of my wrist. He hesitated, then handed it to me and said, "Don't tell radiology. . . "
posted by lisaj32 at 1:44 PM on October 15, 2006

Also, there may be a fee, because you will probably get a copy. And you may not get a good copy, even if they do use real film where you got yours taken. I know these things because I used to manage a dental office, and I saw some truly terrible radiograph copies.
posted by bilabial at 1:44 PM on October 15, 2006

Folks, keep in mind that you don't own the original x-ray (or any other record for that matter).

Like any photograph or snapshot he/she would've taken with a standard camera, the x-ray is the doctor's property. You can buy a copy, but it's not "yours." Notice that the aforementioned "bill of rights" mentions copies, not originals. There are plenty of reasons for this ... copyright law, costs, malpractice, etc.
posted by frogan at 1:54 PM on October 15, 2006

I didn't realize they didn't give them to you in the States. All the X-rays I've had have been in Australia, and here the X-ray place gives them to you to take to your doctor yourself. Afterwards, the doctor gives them back to you to keep. (Presumably because you might change doctors in the future.) Just ask for them!
posted by web-goddess at 2:16 PM on October 15, 2006

I've read that copyright doesn't apply to x-rays.*

Also, previously.
posted by cribcage at 3:00 PM on October 15, 2006

You have a right to your own medical record. This is a very important right guaranteed to patients for purposes of continuity of care. If you request your x-rays for that purpose no clinic in the U.S.A. will deny you because they will get their ass sued. If something ever happened to your foot again and the new physician was unaware of a previous injury because they didn't supply you with your own record when you asked, well that's a big problem. They know this.

Now, they probably aren't hot about people using those films for aesthetic purposes, but you don't have to tell them what its for. Request a copy of the films (not the radiologists assessment OF those films) for purposes of C. of A. so you can take them to your new physician. They are permitted to charge you a reasonable fee.
posted by dendrite at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2006

You should be able to get copies at a small fee./
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 3:15 PM on October 15, 2006

ahem, I meant C. of C....
posted by dendrite at 3:16 PM on October 15, 2006

Folks, keep in mind that you don't own the original x-ray... There are plenty of reasons for this ... copyright law

IANAL, but it would seem to me that the most applicable portion of copyright law that would fit this and many other imaging situations goes with the term "work for hire." You're paying them to do medical imaging for you, so unless other stipulations are made by mutual agreement, you should own the resulting work.

Of course, in practice other stipulations are likely made quite frequently as a condition of service, so that particular portion of copyright law may well be moot. It just seems to me that copyright law would likely be on the side of the patient owning medical images, rather than the provider.

In any case, as others have said, it is likely you can obtain a copy of said imaging from the provider with a request and the willingness to tender a modest fee. It's my personal experience that some persistence is also required -- I regularly request copies of tests and imaging and resulting reports, but only rarely receive them unless I'm willing to politely hassle the staff a bit.
posted by weston at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2006

I had back surgery this year, and got all my x-rays. You might tell them what I told them (although in my case, it was true): that you're going to see a doctor in another state, and you want him/her to see your x-rays, so it'd be easier if you just take them yourself. I doubt they'll argue. I didn't have to pay any money (nor did I have to pay for copies of the x-rays taken during my epidurals).
posted by bingo at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2006

Generally, they'll give you copies for free or a slight charge. They may ask you if you want them on a CD, which sounds like a good deal ("Hey, I can print from those"), but the CD is usually very small, low-res files, and wouldn't even make a good 3 x 5" print.
It's pretty common for them not to even ask what for, especially if you aren't dealing with the doc. The rad techs usually don't care.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:09 PM on October 15, 2006

If a medical record, such as an x-ray, is generated about you, you own the information generated, so you can request a copy from the doctor or radiology department. By law, they may charge you a reasonable fee, which can be fairly steep because X-ray film uses silver emulsion and is somewhat expensive.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:26 PM on October 15, 2006

You can buy a copy, but it's not "yours."

I suspect if you asked for an itemized bill, it may be written in a way that you could use to argue that you own the x-rays, but this is idle musing :)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:05 AM on October 16, 2006

You might emphasize that you merely want the radiographs for aesthetic or sentimental purposes, not to obsess over in hypochondriac fashion.

Discouraging the transfer of X-ray photos to patients prevents patients from dwelling on their photos and deciding "this lump looks like cancer," at best annoying their physicians, at worst getting up lawsuits.

My father recently had a colonoscopy (he's that age) and they do not let you see the video (afterwards - you're out of it during the procedure), though stills of two harmless diverticuli were attached to the doctor's report.

But since broken bones were obviously the reason for your X-rays, the doctor might bend the custom for you.
posted by bad grammar at 7:40 PM on October 16, 2006

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