The dentist owns the records, but the patient owns the information contained in the records.

As such, the patient has a right to examine and/or obtain a copy of their records at any time.

Statute 146.83, Patient Access to Health Care Records provides a patient (or person authorized by the patient) has the right to inspect his or her own dental records during regular business hours if he or she gives reasonable notice to the dentist of a desire to inspect and submits a signed statement of “informed consent” stating the purpose of the inspection, the type of information sought, the name of any person authorized to inspect or receive the information and the date.

The patient may obtain copies of the dental records by paying a reasonable copying cost defined in WI statute shall the dentist want to charge. A person authorized to inspect or receive the information on behalf of a patient includes a parent, guardian, custodian or an agent. The dentist is not required to and should not relinquish physical possession of the original records.

But the dentist has the absolute legal duty to comply with the request for a copy or transfer of the records to whomever the patient desires with little or no interference.