My mother was injured in a nursing home, can I request a copy of her medical records?

Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Phoenix, AZ

Imagine your relative being injured or killed in the nursing home facility that was supposed to look after them. Further, imagine the facility may have caused the injury or death because on negligence on part of the staff. In this situation, it will be important to review their medical records before a case can be established. That said, can you get this important evidence from the nursing home facility you are intending to sue? This dilemma is commonly faced by family members who believe their loved one is being neglected in a nursing home. Fortunately, there are remedies to overcome this challenge.

How Nursing Homes Must Reply

By federal law, nursing homes are required to conduct business related to the care of their patients in a very specific way. According to the law, accurate, honest, and up to date records must be kept. These records include medical records and treatment records. They must also legally make these records accessible to patients and any representatives who have been given the authorization to make these requests.

If you have been named as an authorized representative, you might think getting a copy of the medical records will be straightforward. However, it can be complex. If the patient has became incapacitated, disabled, or died, further privacy laws and probate rules can make accessing the records more challenging. In this case you may have to ask the court to access the records. Typically, when this step is taken, the court will order the nursing home to provide you, or your lawyer, with all records. The court might also mandate the facility turn over any other documentation such as letters or photos, related to the patient.

When Negligence Could Complicate Things

If your relative’s injuries are sufficient enough to file a lawsuit, you’ll need to obtain a copy of the patient’s medical records as quickly as possible. In general, it is better you get a copy before the facility knows you are pursuing legal action. There have been situations that have involved tampering of evidence or copies of records released to family members differing from those handed to a lawyer. In other cases, entities may have been added or omitted in attempt to show more care was given.

Usually if a nursing home lawyer catches this, and a good one should, they may point it out to the facility who may then be more inclined to participate in negotiations to settle. Actually getting to this point may take copious amounts of time and effort, especially when trying to work with HIPAA regulations. Although these rules do favor a patient’s privacy, and guarantee access to medical records by family members, they can also help the facility to delay in handing over records.

Tips to Getting Patient Records from a Nursing Home

  • Avoid telling the staff why you want the records.
  • You do not have to give any reason for your motives.
  • Request the records via U.S. Certified Mail
  • Keep all copies of your requests.

As soon as you suspect abuse or neglect is taking place, you should request a complete copy of the records.If you have concerns, please call a nursing home abuse attorney Phoenix, AZ offers at Rispoli Law, PLLC for help as quickly as possible.