The Supreme Court of Georgia recently clarified and re-affirmed a surviving spouse’s legal right to obtain copies of the deceased spouse’s medical records. Alvista Healthcare Center v. Miller, 2009 Ga. LEXIS 679 (2009).
The Court made it clear that when one’s spouse dies, a copy of the deceased’s medical records may be legally obtained by the estate executor or administrator (if the estate is represented) or by the surviving spouse. I regularly receive calls from a husband or wife who has lost their spouse and who has properly requested and been improperly denied their deceased spouse’s medical records and bills from insurance companies, doctors, dentists, doctors, nursing homes, and a whole host of other medical care providers.
Obtaining a complete and accurate copy of medical records is a critical first step in investigating many types of potential lawsuits such as wrongful death, medical malpractice and other cases involving catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed and you would like to discuss your case in complete confidence, please (404) 525-5150 or contact us online today.
Under the law, as clarified by the Courts, the following sample HIPAA compliant release is all that is necessary for the surviving spouse to receive access to all of the medical records of the deceased spouse.
Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information
By my signature below, I authorize the health care provider identified below, to disclose my Individually Identifiable Health Information (also called Protected Health Information or PHI) described below, to the lawyers, paralegals, and/or administrative assistants employed by the law offices of Robert J. Fleming and Katz Wright & Fleming LLC. I understand that I am an Individual within the meaning of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, a federal law that protects the privacy of my health information. I affirm that this authorization is voluntary and I understand that the health care provider named below may not condition my treatment on my giving or not giving this authorization. I understand that after my PHI is disclosed, it no longer will be protected by the HIPAA Privacy Rule and may be further disclosed by the recipient. I understand my right to revoke this authorization at any time, by submitting a written revocation to the health care provider named below, but that PHI that has been disclosed before my revocation cannot be retracted. I confirm that I have received a copy of this authorization.
Name: Surviving Spouse’s Name
Address: Surviving Spouse’s Address
Telephone: (678) xxx-xxxx Date of Birth: x/xx/xxxx
The PHI for which I authorize disclosure is: All records, opinions, reports, X-rays, copies, abstracts or excerpts of any records or any other information or documents that the law offices of Robert J. Fleming and Katz Wright & Fleming LLC may request, which you have in your custody or under you control, and which pertains to me. I specifically authorize the listed healthcare provider to discuss my medical care and treatment with my counsel, his staff, or individuals retained to consult with him.
The health care provider to whom this authorization is directed is:
Name of medical providers from whom you are seeking the records
The purpose of the disclosure is: It is requested by the undersigned Individual.
This authorization will expire: As of the date I submit a written revocation to the health care provider named above.
Signature of Patient Date
In addition, many large hospital’s and other medical organizations delay the proper release of a deceased’s medical records by insisting that the surviving spouse who is requesting the records complete the hospital’s own HIPAA release as, “this is their policy.” I can assure you, regardless of their “policy” this is not proper under the law. In order to comply with HIPAA regulations, a medical provider must provide the requested records if the surviving spouse presents a proper HIPAA release in substantially similar form to the one above. It is unlawful to insist that another HIPAA medical release be signed.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have recently lost a loved one and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.