When a spouse, child, or other loved one dies, and the cause of their death is unknown or suspect, often times family members are left wondering "how do I get the medical records for a deceased relative?" While the answer is not cut and dry, Florida law does provide a procedure for the next of kin to have the right to access their deceased loved one's medical records.
Pursuant to Section 395.3025, Florida Statutes, a hospital licensed by the State of Florida has to provide the personal representative of an Estate a true and correct copy of all patient records which are in the possession of the medical facility. However, under Section 395.3025(1), Florida Statutes, if a personal representative has not been appointed, then "the next of kin of the decedent" is allowed to obtain the decedent's medical records. Most hospitals will provide medical records to the deceased's next of kin upon being provided with a copy of the death certificate. There are similar provisions in the Florida Statutes that allowed the next of kin to obtain the deceased's records from a physician's office.
The first thing you need to do is get your deceased loved one's death certificate to make sure you are listed as the next of kin. Then, your request for medical records should ask for all the records that are available, including electronic copies of the radiology studies. Often the hospital will only give you an abstract, which often omits key information concerning your loved one's medical care. When you make your request, make sure to request that the records be provided to you in electronic format, so the hospital does not charge you an exorbitant amount of money for medical records. If you request paper copies, a hospital can charge you as much as a $1 per page for the records, but it cannot charge you more than the cost of the electronic media (such as a CD or flash drive) if you request the medical records be provided electronically. Of course, our firm can help you get these records at no cost to you and has experience dealing with medical records custodians who often resist family members' efforts obtain their loved one's medical records to explore medical negligence-wrongful death cases.
If you have been denied access to your deceased spouse's, child's, or other loved one's medical records, have questions about how to obtain those records, or have questions about what to do in the event of the unexpected death of a loved one - such as whether you have a claim for medical malpractice-call us at 813-284-4024. We can help. McBreen & Nowak, P.A. can not only help you obtain the medical records of your loved one, but we will also investigate your potential claims for medical malpractice to obtain justice for you.