When Medical Records Are Withheld
Nursing Home Residents’ Right to Access Medical Records
A nursing home resident’s right to see his or her own medical records and obtain a copy of them is a fundamental civil right granted under federal law. This right is among the various nursing home residents’ rights granted to all nursing home residents, including those in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A nursing home that refuses to turn over records or delays in meeting prescribed deadlines in turning over records, or otherwise acts in ways that amount to withholding medical records thereby deprives that resident of his or her civil rights. Withholding medical records is a serious offense that can lead to substantial civil fines and/or criminal prosecution.
Right to Access Protected by HIPAA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule gives all patients, including long-term care facility and nursing home residents, the right to view, inspect, and gain a copy of their medical records. This privacy rule is enforceable in every state. It grants patients the right to access their own health information—whether printed on paper, sent electronically, or given orally—and gives them the right to decide who may view or receive a copy of their records. Under HIPAA, care-providing entities, including nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, have 30 days to comply with the patient’s request. Withholding medical records or not providing them in a timely manner is a HIPAA violation.
All too frequently, long-term care and nursing home residents in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey encounter obstacles when seeking to obtain their health information. Many times these nursing home residents and their loved ones are unaware of their rights to request their records and receive them in a timely fashion. It is important for nursing home residents and their families to know they have a right to:
- a copy of their complete medical records within 30 days;
- a paper or electronic copy of their records;
- a copy of their records even if the nursing home has not been paid for its services; and
- direct a copy of their medical records to someone else.
Medical records are essential in establishing a legal case when nursing home abuse or neglect has occurred. The records contain vital information necessary for bringing a legal action. For this reason, some nursing homes are reluctant to turn over records, and they often delay the process or send incomplete records in violation of HIPAA laws. Under such situations, a complaint should be promptly filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
Obtaining Your Loved One’s Medical Records
HIPAA laws permit family members of nursing home residents to obtain their loved one’s medical records provided the family member has a power of attorney granting them this authority or, in the event the nursing home resident has died, the family member is the executor of their loved one’s will or has the power to administer the estate without a will. Should a nursing home or other long term care facility fail to provide the records in accordance with HIPAA, the family member will have the same ability to enforce their loved one’s rights as the loved one would if he or she were still alive.
Contact an Attorney
If you believe your long-term care facility or nursing home has violated your or your loved one’s HIPAA rights by withholding medical records, you should secure the help of a nursing home abuse attorney who is well-versed in nursing home residents’ rights. Nursing Home Neglect Attorney Brian P. Murphy has experience intervening on behalf of nursing home residents and their families and will ensure your loved one’s civil rights to obtain his or her medical records are upheld.
Mr. Murphy is an experienced and well-regarded New Jersey and Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorney. He has successfully represented many elderly nursing home residents subjected to abuse and neglect. Mr. Murphy handles cases throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. If you see signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, take immediate action today. Contact nursing home abuse attorney, Brian P. Murphy, to discuss your potential legal matter.
The Nursing Home Attorneys is a website owned by Attorney Brian P. Murphy. Its purpose is to assist you in understanding your rights, especially when it comes to preventing or protecting yourself and/or your loved ones against nursing home abuse, neglect, bedsores, dehydration, and wrongful death. Legal matters are billed on a contingency fee basis.
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