How do I Obtain Medical Records from a Nursing Home?
There are many reasons for wanting to obtain medical records from a nursing home. Loved ones in a nursing home may have been injured, or they may be transferring to another facility. Whatever the reasons are, nursing home patients and their family members have a right to their medical records, provided they know and follow the correct process to obtain them.
Determining the Rights of the Deceased’s Estate
In instances where a nursing home resident has passed away, medical records may be given to a person’s estate after their death under Florida Statutes §400.145. If the deceased did not have an estate at the time of their death, certain family members may still obtain their medical records.
The aforementioned statute specifically states that in order for a surviving spouse to obtain medical records for a deceased nursing home resident, they must ask an attorney to draft a letter certifying the individual asking for records is, in fact, the decedent’s spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the nursing home resident’s surviving children may obtain medical records so long as they provide the same confirmation of eligibility.
Obtaining Records for a Living Resident
Fla. Stat. §400.145 also dictates how to obtain medical records for a living nursing home resident. Under this statute, nursing homes are required to provide medical records within seven days of receiving a formal, written request for the records. A spouse, guardian, surrogate, proxy, or attorney may write this letter.
These same individuals can request the records in writing for residents that are no longer at a facility. In these cases, the nursing home has ten days to provide the records, which must include the full medical chart for the duration of the resident’s time at the nursing home.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), nursing home residents may also fill out a HIPAA release form. This form will allow eligible individuals to request the records from the nursing home.
Health Care Surrogate and Power of Attorney
Many individuals erroneously believe a Health Care Surrogate form will allow them to obtain the medical records of a nursing home resident. In reality, these forms only grant the power for a person to make medical decisions on the resident’s behalf. Due to this, nursing homes often explicitly state that a Health Care Surrogate form does not grant someone the authority to obtain medical records.
Conversely, having general power of attorney for a nursing home resident will allow someone to obtain that resident’s medical records. Another benefit of being granted general power of attorney is the individual may file a lawsuit against the nursing home on the resident’s behalf if the nursing home was negligent at any time. However, financial power of attorney forms do not allow a person to obtain medical records.
Getting Help with Medical Records
Obtaining medical records from a nursing home may seem like a daunting task, but spouses and surviving children have a right to access medical records so long as they follow certain procedures. An attorney can help with this process, including drafting letters and helping loved ones fill out power of attorney forms. Nursing homes are also often more likely to provide the medical records when they receive a letter from an attorney who will take further action if the records are not released.