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How to Get the Medical Records of a Family Member Who Died

Because medical malpractice errors are the third leading cause of death in this country, family members often have questions about whether their loved one received the proper care by healthcare providers before their loved one passed away.

Far too often, the attempt to get copies of their loved one's medical records goes like this:

The proper family member signs an authorization to release the records.  The doctor or hospital tells the family member they cannot release the medical records because the family member did not follow the proper legal requirements.  The family member gives up because the legal requirements told to them seem so difficult and it is too much to handle while dealing with their grief.

This refusal by the healthcare provider to release medical records sometimes may be out of an abundance of caution, but oftentimes is a concerted effort to prevent a medical malpractice claim from being investigated and ultimately filed against them.

SO...HOW DO I GET A COPY OF MY LOVED ONE'S MEDICAL RECORDS?

In Illinois, a law was recently passed making it much easier to obtain your loved one's medical records after they die. 735 ILCS 5/8-2001.5 requires the medical provider to release the deceased's persons medical records to the following individuals:

1. The agent appointed as health care power of attorney by the deceased; 

2. The executor of the deceased person's estate; or

3. The administrator of the deceased person's estate.

If an agent, executor or administrator has NOT been appointed, then the following individuals are authorized to be the personal representative of the deceased patient to receive copies of their medical records:

1. The deceased person's surviving spouse; or

2. If there is no surviving spouse, any one or more of the following:

        i. an adult son or daughter of the deceased,

        ii. a parent of the deceased, or

        iii. an adult brother or sister of the deceased.

All that is required to get the medical records is for an individual named above to sign the Authorized Relative Certification form contained in the statute, provide a certified copy of the death certificate and pay the normal copy charges.

If you believe a loved one died as a result of medical malpractice or if you are having difficulty getting the medical records to investigate that possibility, contact the Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid for a free consultation.  We will help you get the answers you and your family deserve and need.

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