Medical Malpractice Case Information -- Getting Your Medical Records
If you think you may have suffered a serious personal injury because of doctor error, one of the first things you should do is get a copy of your medical records. In Massachusetts, you have an absolute right to get a copy of your records. The only requirement is that you have to sign an authorization which conforms to the requirements of the HIPAA law. This is a law enacted by Congress to protect the confidentiality of medical records.
The hospital or physician’s office will have the form that you will sign. Call or visit the office and ask for the authorization. If you request the records of an adult family member, that person has to sign the authorization. A parent can obtain a child’s medical records by signing the authorization as “father/mother and next friend” of the child. Only the duly appointed representative of the estate of a deceased patient may obtain a copy of that patient’s medical records.
When you request your records, you should ask for the complete “page-by-page” chart. Most hospitals will require you to fill out a form which asks which part of the record you want. Get the entire chart, unless you or your family member has had a lengthy hospital stay. In that case, the copying charges may be quite expensive. If you are concerned about the cost of the copies, ask the hospital records person to give you an invoice for the copying cost before you order the chart.
If your doctor or hospital ask you what you want the records for, you do not have to give them a reason. Remember: you have an absolute right to obtain a copy of your records. Do not accept no for an answer. Do not let a physician’s office tell you that you have wait a month or longer to get a copy of your chart. Any lawyer who handles medical negligence cases will tell you horror stories of medical records that were destroyed, altered or disappeared after a serious unexpected medical error. Therefore, the sooner you get your records, the better. Think of the record as a potential crime scene with evidence that will allow you to potentially prove your case. It is critical that you preserve the evidence as soon as possible.
One of the important rolls of your lawyer in the early stages of your potential case is to help you navigate through the process of obtaining your records. Often, the record is the only evidence of the treatment in your case. It is remarkable how frequently amnesia sets in when a patient is badly injured. You can expect that other physicians and nurses working with the potential defendant physician will not go out of their way to help you prove your case. The search for the truth in every medical malpractice case begins and ends with the documentation of care. The record is the case. Get it!
What Should You Do If You Have A Medical Malpractice Case?
The lawyers at medical malpractice and personal injury firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck, PC have decades of years of experience helping medical malpractice victims. If you think you have a medical malpractice case resulting in an injury or wrongful death, it is essential that you contact a qualified malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Learn more about choosing a medical malpractice attorney.
Visit our Case Reports pages to learn about some of our many victories in medical malpractice cases. Our Choosing A Lawyer FAQS page will answer many questions you may have about choosing the right lawyer and how your case will be handled.