If you are here today because you have lost a parent, please accept our condolences. We know this is a difficult time for you and your family. There are several reasons that a person may need the medical records of a deceased parent.
- Records are important parts of family medical history. You need to know if you are predisposed to any health issues.
- If your loved one lost their life due to the careless or negligent actions of another person or entity, the records will need to be examined in a potential wrongful death case.
In some cases, you may need to seek help from a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer to ease the process. Today, SMT Legal wants to talk about how to legally obtain a parent’s medical records in Pennsylvania.
Legally obtaining a parent’s medical records after they pass away
One of the main obstacles anyone faces when attempting to obtain a person’s medical records is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, more commonly referred to as HIPAA. This law has a range of protections and policies in place that is designed to keep an individual’s health information safe.
- HIPAA safeguards a person’s information for 50 years following their death.
- Physicians, under Pennsylvania law, are only required to keep an adult patient’s records for seven years from the last date-of-service.
The only people who have the right to a deceased person’s medical records under the law are the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. The executor or administrator is to be treated as the individual who is deceased for HIPAA purposes.
Why these records matter for wrongful death cases
When a person is killed in Pennsylvania due to wrongful death due to medical malpractice, obtaining medical records is vital when it comes to proving a case. In fact, in order for these cases to move forward, a “certificate of merit” must be obtained. This means that you and an attorney have to have the deceased person’s medical records reviewed by a qualified physician expert who will testify to the possibility that medical malpractice occurred.
The quickest way for these records to be obtained is with the assistance of the surviving family members. It is generally much easier for a family member to obtain medical records than it is for an attorney to do so. In cases where a hospital or individual healthcare provider thinks they may face a lawsuit, they are likely to throw up roadblocks when an attorney is requesting the records.
- Becoming the executor of your parent’s estate is the fastest way to obtain all medical records needed.
Special hospital cases
In the absence of an official executor or administrator of a deceased’s estate, Pennsylvania law allows for hospitals to release medical records of the deceased person to the next of kin. However, this law is only applicable to hospitals.
The team at SMT Legal is ready to help you through this. When you need a wrongful death attorney in Pennsylvania, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling 1-888-976-2529.