When a loved one lives in a nursing home, you might need to access their medical records, especially if you believe there’s potential nursing home abuse or neglect. Residents changing facilities or leaving temporarily also need access to their records. However, gaining access to a loved one’s nursing home records can sometimes be complicated when the facility doesn’t want to cooperate.
You might be met with some delays if you try to access the records independently. We recommend hiring a skilled California nursing home lawyer who can help. At Silva Injury Law, we have decades of experience with nursing home cases and can help in getting access to records.
How to Access Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Records
Residents and certain family members have the right to view nursing home medical records. If the resident is able, they can ask to view their records verbally or by writing a letter. The nursing home must comply with the request within 24 hours, excluding holidays and weekends. It’s best to complete the request in writing and keep a copy.
California law also allows residents to ask for copies of their records. Residents must pay for the documents, and the nursing home must comply with the request within two business days. The law sets fees for copying records too. Nursing homes cannot charge more than $0.25 per page or $0.50 per microfilm, plus any reasonable clerical costs. If the facility maintains records electronically, the resident has the right to receive copies in an electronic format.
Third-Party Access to California Nursing Home Records
California law grants access to third parties in some instances. The resident’s representative has the same right to access medical records as the resident. Under California Health and Safety Code Section 123105 (e), approved representatives can be any of the following:
- A parent or legal guardian if the resident is a minor;
- A conservator for an adult nursing home resident;
- The resident’s agent with power of attorney over health care decisions; or
- If the resident has died, someone who is a beneficiary of a will, trust, or inheritance.
If the resident is impaired, the representative might be a family member making health care decisions on their behalf.
Residents can also authorize other third parties by signing a release form. These representatives have the same rights as residents to inspect and request copies at the set pricing. An authorized third-party representative might be a lawyer representing the family for nursing home abuse claims.
If the resident is deceased, third-party beneficiaries also have the right to access the records. This person might be someone the deceased had transferred property to at death or a legal heir. An executor of someone’s estate would also fall under the category.
Problems Gaining Access to a Loved One’s Nursing Home Records
While federal and state laws are clear, it doesn’t mean that the nursing home will comply. Some facilities don’t want to turn over records for fear of litigation. Other times, they are short-staffed, don’t understand the laws, or don’t care about patient rights. Whatever the reason for delay or denial, the facility has violated the resident’s rights and multiple laws.
Sometimes the nursing home might outright refuse the request, claiming it’s a violation of health care information disclosure laws. Understandably, the nursing home should not authorize access to someone who doesn’t meet the criteria. However, the representative requesting the records often has proper standing and authorization.
Amending Nursing Home Records
Nursing home residents have the right under federal law to request an amendment to their records as well if they contain inaccurate information. The nursing home must comply with the request and respond within 60 days. If the facility denies the request, it must send a written explanation outlining the reasons for the denial and include information about the resident’s rights to file a disagreement.
Residents can also request a written addendum of up to 250 words for each disputed item to address something that’s incomplete or incorrect. The nursing home doesn’t have the right to deny this request unless the requested addendums contain unlawful or defamatory language.
Contact a Lawyer Today
If you need assistance to access a loved one’s nursing home records, the experienced legal team at Silva Injury Law is here to help. We have ample experience dealing with California nursing homes that don’t want to comply with patients’ rights. You don’t have to deal with them alone. We can help you access the records you need. Schedule an initial consultation today to learn more about how we can help.
FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP
At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.