Q: Question about obtaining medical records from the Hospital when someone has passed away
My mother is trying to get medical records for my dad who had passed away 2 weeks ago from a fall in the Hospital however after signing to get the records, they had sent a letter back saying that they are not allowed to give them to her (even though she is the spouse) because she is not the power of attorney nor that he had a Will. Is that right of them to do so even if it is the spouse of the person who had died? We are needing those records to prove that the Hospital and nurses were being negligent and in turn was fatal for my dad who had fallen while up there and passed away 2 days after. When he first arrived he was conscious and alert but the day after the fall, he was in a "coma" like sleep and never woke up.
A: Consult with experienced medical malpractice attorneys who can assist in getting the records.
Assuming no personal representative has been appointed for your father's estate, your mother is entitled under Indiana law to obtain the records. Below is the code cite/law that supports your mother's right to obtain the records. (Sometimes medical providers will require an affidavit or other proof that no personal representative has been appointed and that the person requesting is the spouse before releasing the records).
Indiana Code 16-39-1-3
Request for patient's health records; who may request
(a) Health records may be requested by a competent patient if the patient is:
(1) emancipated and less than eighteen (18) years of age; or (2) at least eighteen (18) years of age.
(b) If a patient is incompetent, the request for health records may be made by the parent, guardian, or custodian of the patient.
(c) Health records of a deceased patient may be requested: (1) by a coroner under IC 36-2-14-21 or by the personal representative of the patient's estate; (2) if the estate of the deceased patient does not have a personal representative, by the spouse of the deceased patient; (3) if the deceased patient does not have a surviving spouse and the deceased patient's estate does not have a personal representative, by: (A) a child of the deceased patient; or (B) the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child of the deceased patient if the child of the deceased patient is incompetent; (4) if the deceased patient was an incapacitated person for whom a guardian had been appointed under IC 29-3 or the law of another state, by the guardian of the deceased patient, except as provided in subsection (d); or (5) if the deceased patient does not have a surviving spouse or child, and the deceased patient's estate does not have a personal representative, by any responsible member of the family.
(d) If: (1) the deceased patient was an incapacitated person subject to a guardianship at the time of the patient's death; and (2) a personal representative of the estate of the deceased patient is appointed under IC 29-1-7; the guardian of the deceased patient may not request health records of the deceased patient under subsection (c)(4).
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