Don't I Have The Rights To My Dead Cat's X-Rays?

“Dear Consumerist,

I recently contacted my deceased pet’s (pictured at death) vet to request that they send me a series of full-body x-rays they shot about 7 years ago. While I haven’t been able to speak to a doctor or head administrator yet, the receptionists have informed me that x-rays and other medical images of their animal patients are the legal property of the hospital. They can loan the images out to me for a month, but then I must give them back. This seems really odd.”

First of all, I PAID out of pocket to have the x-rays taken. Second, the pet is deceased. There will be no need for any veterinarian to refer to those images ever again. Third, how can it be that I have full ownership rights to x-rays (that are paid for by my insurance company) of my own body, and yet I don’t own rights to my pet’s x-rays? There IS the possibility that, somewhere down the line, I signed a waiver of my rights to those images, but is it even legal for the vet to request such a waiver?

What’s the real deal here? While I’m sure very few people ever ask for their dead pet’s medical records, is there any chance you can look into this for me? How can I go about getting those x-rays in my hands?

Much appreciation from
the c-side

That is sad. “The c-side” said she was told this by a receptionist who wasn’t able to provide anything further. We say that she needs to speak with one of the doctors or hospital administrators to find out their basis for saying they own the x-rays. Does anyone else know?

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