I read an interesting article about getting medical records earlier this week. The article raised several important points: 1) Its hard to get your own records, but its much harder to get someone else’s; 2) Its hard to get ALL records; 3) Its hard to be sure that the records are accurate.
USA Today specifically points out that its harder to obtain medical records from treating facilities after something has gone wrong. In fact, the article suggests that one way to avoid just this sort of problem is to routinely request copies of medical records. This advice, which I think is very good advice, led me to wonder, well, just how often do you request records? I mean, consider you’re in the hospital having a baby. Do you request the records on day 2? Do you request the records upon discharge? Do you request the records on day 2 and upon discharge?
The article also points out that under federa law, every patient or designated representative has the right to see and copy the patient’s medical records. This is aparently not the case in nursing homes. Nursing homes in this area routinely say that once a patient is discharged, they are no longer a patient, and therefore have no right of access to their records, at least not until those records have been thoroughly reviewed by their corporate attorneys. Clever, don’t you think?
Worse than that, try arguing with in-house counsel about whether or not your deceased client’s daughter (who was the Responsible Party for purposes of admission, who likely signed an arbitration clause that the nursing home will try to enforce against her) is a “designated representative” for purposes of reviewing and/or receiving medical records.
The article is worth the read. And I don’t think its exaggerated. And its certainly something to think about.