How To Obtain Medical Records From a Nursing Home
Nursing homes generally have a good idea of when they are about to be sued for negligence in an abuse and neglect case. They know that your loved one’s medical records could help form the basis for your claim. Thus, they will not go out of their way to make sure that you have evidence for any possible lawsuit. It falls on you to know how to obtain these records for yourself.
In most cases, it is the family members who come in after their loved one has died to obtain medical records. If your loved one is still alive, the answer is simpler. They have the legal right to request their own medical records, and nursing homes must comply. If the resident cannot make the request themselves, the person with power of attorney can make it. A specialized Arizona elder abuse lawyer can make all the difference in helping with your case.
Federal and State Law Both Impact How to Get Records
These facilities must still follow the law when family members are asking for records after their loved one has passed, even though these records could be what makes them liable. The governing law here is the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA). This is a privacy law, and it will mean that nursing home medical records are available only to a very small universe of people. In Arizona, the person who was able to make medical decisions at the time of death and the estate administrator have the right to medical records.
As the personal representative, you must file a request, following the terms of the statute. Your best bet is to make the request in writing, so you have proof that you made it and the date that you did it. Usually, the facility will have a form that you can use to request the records. If not, make sure to include identifying information and a very specific request for which records you want to see. If you want the entire medical file, make that clear. The nursing home has 30 days from the date of the request to furnish the records, and they can request one 30-day extension.
The Nursing Home Cannot Deny a Request Properly Made
Then, state laws will govern how and when the nursing home has to turn over the medical records. The nursing home has a legal obligation to give these records. While they may make it difficult, and you might have to ask several times, they can get in trouble for withholding these from you. For the nursing home, it will make a bad situation worse. If the nursing home receives federal funding for Medicare and Medicaid, they could be in even bigger trouble. If you are not getting anywhere in your request for records, you could file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.
Obtaining medical records from a nursing home does come at a cost. Skilled nursing facilities have the legal right to charge you for photocopies if the records are in paper form. Medical records could span hundreds, if not thousands, of pages, and these costs could add up quickly. However, you could always try to recoup this cost in a settlement if you sue the nursing home. In practically every nursing home lawsuit, having these medical records is an absolute must, and they will be the central part of your case. Contact the Knapp & Roberts today.
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