Medical Providers Fail to Release Medical Records - A New Trend

The death of a loved one can be unbearable. After loosing a loved one, it is common to look for answers, especially when a loved one dies under medical care. It is logical to think that when a patient dies under medical care, there should be records and documentation that would explain what went wrong. However, there is a troubling new trend that the family members of patients who die under medical care have difficulties obtaining medical records, especially when there has been a complication with the medical care that was provided. Many times, family members just want an explanation. However, the medical provider’s reaction may be to hide any evidence of errors or mistakes to prevent medical malpractice claims. In California, there have been reports of medical records going missing, and medical providers giving family members thousands of pages of medical records that are totally unrelated to the inquiry. There are claims that medical providers have intentionally darkened pages or provided copies of records that are illegible. There are also reports of medical providers taking years to release medical records. This can be a very serious issue. In California, there have been situations where a medical provider failed to release a patient’s medical records for over three years. By the time the medical provider finally released the records, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims expired. Medical records are central to any medical malpractice claim and medical providers understand this fact. It is important for consumers to understand that federal law mandates medical providers release a patient’s records to either the patient or the patient’s designated representative. Under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, medical providers may deny the release of records, however, they may only do so in limited circumstances and they must explain their reasons for doing so. One way to ensure you receive proper documentation of all your medical treatment is to ask for copies of your medical records periodically, instead of waiting until after there has been a complication or possible medical malpractice. Also, if you are having difficulties obtaining medical records, you can contact the Department of Health and Human Services or your states medical board. If you suspect a possible claim for medical malpractice and the medical provider refuses or delays releasing the proper medical documentation, it may be helpful to speak with an attorney that is experienced in dealing with medical providers. Hospitals and medical providers have lawyers working for them. When you have an attorney representing your claim, it becomes very difficult for the medical providers to deny the release of documentation that they are required to disclose.

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