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Q&A: Nursing Home Records

Do I have a right to see nursing home medical records?

Below is one of the common questions many clients have when they first contact Zimmet & Zimmet. The answer may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don’t find the answer here, or simply want more information, you should contact us for answers to your specific questions. Our initial consultation is free of charge.

One of the things our nursing home malpractice clients tell us all the time is that they asked the nursing home to let them look at the medical records but the nurses or administrator would not allow it. Usually our clients are acting as a health-care surrogate or as a power of attorney for one of their family in the nursing home.

When a nursing home denies access to records it is clearly violating Florida law. The nursing home resident, a healthcare surrogate, and a person acting under a power of attorney have unambiguous rights both to see the records and to copies of the records.

If a nursing home denies you access to medical records make a copy of this answer and give it to the nursing home administrator with a written request for access to the records. Make a note about what the administrator says in response. Here is what the Florida statutes say about access to medical records.
Section 400.145 of the Florida Statutes regulating nursing homes provides that nursing home “shall furnish to the spouse, guardian, surrogate, proxy, or attorney in fact… of a current resident, within 7 working days after receipt of a written request, or of a former resident, within 10 working days after receipt of a written request, a copy of that resident’s records which are in the possession of the facility.”

This statute also gives you the right to look at the original records. “The facility shall further allow any such spouse, guardian, surrogate, proxy or attorney in fact… to examine the original records in its possession…”

The statute governing healthcare surrogates gives the surrogate the right to medical records. Section 765.205 Florida Statutes provides: “The surrogate, in accordance with the principal’s instructions, unless such authority has been expressly limited by the principal, shall… be provided access to the appropriate medical records of the principal.”

Nursing home residents have the right to be treated by a doctor and the law also gives you the right of access to the doctor’s medical records. Section 456.05 Florida Statutes provides: “Any healthcare practitioner… shall, upon request of such person [the patient] or the person’s legal representative, furnish, in a timely manner, without delays for legal review, copies of all reports and records relating to such examination or treatment…” There is an exception for psychiatric records.

Therefore, don’t believe health care providers if they tell you that you do not have a right to see the record. You do have the right.

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