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My father's health records

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cynthiaG Find out more about cynthiaG
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  • My father's health records

    Help!!

    My father passed away in Florida about 5 yrs. ago. He had HCM. I want to obtain copies of his medical records for 2 yrs. prior to his passing. I called his cardiologist's office and she told me that whomever has "power of attorney" can request these. O.k. That was simple as my sister had this. She therefore faxed them the release form . (this was 2 weeks ago.). She called them and they told her that his records are not kept there but at the hospital where he passed away. I called the hospital this morning to ask for their fax # so my sister could request the records for me. This know it all at the medical records office there informed me that it is NOT whomever has power of attorney who can request copies of his records, but the executor of the estate. I assumed my sister was so I called her - she is NOT the executor of his estate. This may be my uncle who lives in Florida (who will never get around to doing this) or my father's girlfriend's son-in-law...CAN THIS GET MORE COMPLICATED??!! It's a LONG story. Why is this SO DIFFICULT to get my own father's health records?? Does anyone have any advice?
    \"It is not length of life, but depth of life.\"

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • #2
    Re: My father's health records

    Cynthia,

    It's a difficult process to be sure... it took me many months last year to obtain my father's medical records. In my case, my mother was able to sign for them (the surviving spouse always can do this) and then it was just a waiting game while the hospital found the files, then made copies and sent them. That was the longest part of the process for me, as my father had been dead for almost twenty years, and those files were hidden pretty good. There is usually a fee as well (so much per page, plus the hourly rate for their time), but they can waive the fee if the records are necessary for your own treatment (i.e. to evaluate your risk for sudden death, etc.). If your mother is not living, then i'm afraid that whoever is currently in charge of the estate must be the one to do this for you. Even if you have a doctor try and get the records for you, he or she would still need to obtain the proper authorization to do so. I'm not even sure if the doctor who treated your dad would be able to release the records to you, what with the new privacy laws and everything.

    Find out who is in charge of your father's estate, then keep pushing on him or her until this get's done. It's for your own health's sake, for crying out loud, nobody should be standing in your way.

    Good luck,

    Jim
    "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

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    • #3
      Re: My father's health records

      Hi Cynthia,
      There may yet be another way for you to get copies of your father’s records – especially if the estate is still in probate, and that is to find out which court is handling the probate in Florida (public records – or a minimal fee to a local lawyer.) Then have your cardiologist write a letter to the probate court (or through the lawyer) explaining the medical necessity, and partitioning the court to issue an order for you to obtain the records. Cover all bases if you can, partitioning for the records of the doctor and the hospital both.

      If the estate is already probated, this may or may not work – I do not know Florida law in this matter. However, if you go the route of a local attorney, a formal request to the executor of the estate might bring motion, thus avoiding the court petition route. Many lawyers I’m sorry to say will be very quick to take your retainer, and very slow in producing results. When bartering with him about his fee, also get a projected timetable, and get the whole thing in writing before a cent changes hands. You then have to “stay on his case” if things do not move along promptly. You should also require copies of everything produced or processed by, to and from the lawyer, in your agreement with him.

      If you can get him on a contingency bases, that probably would be best, so you can always fire him if he doesn’t perform as per the agreement, or if you’re not satisfied with his handling of the case. You just about have to be a lawyer to deal with one of them, just like you almost have to be a doctor to deal with them. There are shining exceptions to the rule of course, but they are just that – exceptions.
      Burt

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      • #4
        Re: My father's health records

        Good points Burton.... but before you go to all that trouble i would certainly try the easy road first, Cynthia. You haven't yet even found out who the executor of the estate is and simply asked him or her if they will obtain the records for you. Call them up, explain why you need the records, and send them the form they need to sign (in a postage-paid envelope if you have to). Once this person authorizes you to receive the medical records, you can bypass them altogether and deal directly with the hospital. The records can be sent directly to you if they sign-off on it. And try not to get so flustered dear... it's a long and frustrating process even when you follow the proper channels.
        "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

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        • #5
          Re: My father's health records

          Thank you so much guys for your input. I just thought of something. My parents were "separated" but never got divorced. My mother was still legally "married", so can SHE request the records?? After his death, she was able to collect some of his benefits.
          \"It is not length of life, but depth of life.\"

          Ralph Waldo Emerson

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          • #6
            Re: My father's health records

            I would guess that she CAN request the records. Good luck!

            Reenie
            Reenie

            ****************
            Husband has HCM.
            3 kids - ages 23, 21, & 19. All presently clear of HCM.

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            • #7
              Re: My father's health records

              I would second Reenie's opinion... the surviving spouse can almost always authorize the release of medical records. In fact, i believe that this is the preferred route, especially when the surviving parent is requesting the records for reasons of ongoing healthcare for her children. My brother is actually the executor of my parents' estate, yet mom was able to sign for my dad's medical records, no questions asked. In fact the form we filled out specifically requested my mother's signature and social security number. I think the only time an executor or attorney needs to get involved is if both parents are deceased, which i assumed was the case from your post. Have the hospital send the form to you, fill it out, have your mother sign it, and send it back to them. That should be all there is to it.
              "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

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