If seriously or fatally injured as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, victims or their families should begin obtaining medical records related to the case, as well as previous records that establish the patient’s medical history. Preserving evidence is critical in a medical malpractice case – it’s important to get started as soon as possible.
Who has the right to obtain copies of medical records?
According to federal law, patients are authorized to obtain copies of their medical records when requested. This right falls under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which also protects a patient’s medical information.
If the medical malpractice case involves a child, parents have the right to access those records. There could be some exceptions that apply, such as medical care a child has received that doesn’t require parental consent. And if the case involves a loved one who suffered fatal injuries as a result of medical negligence, a personal representative of the estate has access to those records.
Why is it obtaining medical records for a medical malpractice case important?
If a healthcare provider suspects that a patient may plan to file a medical malpractice claim, there is the possibility that the healthcare professional may alter or destroy the records. This is why patients and their families should act quickly.
Proving medical negligence is challenging enough without worrying that any proof available is inadequate or incomplete. Because documentation is going to be one of the key ingredients to building a strong case, getting copies of all relevant items is critical.
Never assume that others won’t tamper with records or other evidence. Eliminate or reduce this risk by securing the records even before making the individual or entity aware that a claim could be filed.
What information should patients ask for when obtaining medical records?
It will be important to get all pages of records and charts. Of course, the facility or hospital likely will charge for the pages so it could become costly, depending on the situation.
But there are a number of potential defenses that doctors or other healthcare providers might use, so it may be worth the additional cost. For instance, the healthcare provider may state that the patient failed to disclose pertinent information that would have made a difference in the care or treatment provided.
Let’s say the patient suffered a severe adverse reaction from a medication that was incompatible with another drug the patient was taking. If the doctor tries to claim the patient never informed him/her about the current medication, records may show otherwise. In fact, the records could illustrate that the doctor was the one who prescribed the other drug.
Some medical records may establish that a patient was misdiagnosed. This may be possible by obtaining copies of biopsy results. These records could show that the doctor misread the results or overlooked them.
Do I need an attorney in order to secure medical records?
Although patients have the right to their medical records, there could be obstacles that they run into when trying to obtain them. An attorney can help the patient navigate this process.
Legal counsel is important to secure anytime someone is pursuing a medical malpractice claim because there are numerous other issues that could arise. The complexities involved in this type of case necessitate help from a lawyer.
Contact Gacovino, Lake & Associates to learn more about what steps need to be taken when obtaining medical records for use as evidence in a claim. Call us today at (800) 246-4878.