Medical records are often critical evidence in a nursing home abuse or neglect claim. Medical records verify that injuries occurred because of the abuse or neglect. They form the basis of proving damages and the suffering of the victim.
Too often, nursing homes try to avoid accountability by refusing to produce records. They may make excuses or try to charge an outrageous amount. But you can fight back.
Our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers explain how to obtain medical records from nursing home facilities.
Do I have a right to get medical records from a nursing home in South Carolina?
Yes. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and South Carolina Law protect your right to access your medical records from a nursing home facility.
Getting medical records from a nursing home facility
To get medical records from a nursing home facility, you must submit a request in writing. The easiest way is to ask the facility how they receive requests. They may accept a mailed request, emailed, faxed, or submitted in person. Ask where and how to submit the request.
In all cases, the request must be in writing and must also contain written authorization from the resident or their legal representative.
South Carolina Code Title 44 – Health – Chapter 115 – Physicians’ Patient Records Act
The Physicians’ Patient Records Act (South Carolina Code § 44-115-30) says that a patient or their legal representative may access their medical records.
- The patient must sign a written authorization to release the record
- A legal representative may make the request on behalf of the patient
- Copies must be provided upon request
- Electronic or printed format may be requested
- Electronic records may be provided if the record is kept in that format, and there’s no extra cost to produce the record in electronic format
A written authorization must be submitted in all cases. A physician cannot release the records without written consent from the patient or their legal representative.
What to know about getting medical records from a nursing home
- The facility may charge for the cost of producing the records. However, there are limits to what they can charge
- You may ask for any record associated with treatment, including bills for service
- Sometimes, they may release a summary of the record, but even if they do, your lawyer can get the entire record in a formal legal proceeding
- There is no specific deadline for how long they can take to produce a record, but they should comply with the request within a reasonable period of time
- Records should be available as far back as at least 10 years
Nursing home records in formal legal proceedings
Medical records can be critically important in formal legal proceedings for nursing home abuse and neglect. South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure allow the victim to demand records through the proper legal proceeding. Certainly, medical records are relevant and likely to lead to additional relevant information in an abuse or neglect proceeding.
Rule 26 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure governs discovery, including the .discovery of medical records. The plaintiff (victim) may submit a discovery request demanding that the defendant produce records within their possession. The rules govern how a records request must be worded and submitted. If the defendant does not produce the records, the plaintiff may approach the court to secure the documents.
Lawyers for securing nursing home medical records
As lawyers for nursing home abuse and neglect, we know how important medical records are. Of course, the care facility isn’t always going to voluntarily produce the records, especially if they make it clear that the facility was in the wrong. Fortunately, our lawyers can help.
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, we invite you to have a private consultation with our lawyers. The Bobby Jones Law nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers know the procedures for securing medical records from a care facility through records requests and formal legal proceedings. We can help you understand your legal rights and options and how to fight back if your loved one is a victim.