Do You Have Rights to Your Senior’s Medical Records?

The short answer is “no” in most cases.  To get that vital information you have to work up front with your loved one before you ever go to the doctor’s office.shutterstock_106616390

Few things in healthcare are as frustrating as having an aging parent with health issues and not be able to see their medical records.  Whether  you are a family member caring for a senior or  or senior yourself who wants to make sure  your potential caregiver can have the information they need,  you should know how to get or give permission to view medical records.

First, your loved one always has the right to designate who they want to have access to their medical records.  When a senior goes to a doctor or hospital, they should specifically ask to fill out a a form saying who should get access to their health records.  The senior’s spouse or children will not necessarily have access without the authorization.

Second, a doctor is allowed to give information to a spouse or family member if he or she is present during a doctor’s visit or a hospital stay.  If the senior has a family member come with them to the doctor, the doctor can assume that the senior wants the family member to have access to the senior’s medical information unless the senior states otherwise.

Third, a senior should have a “Living Will.”  Also called a “Healthcare Declaration,” this  legal document, which varies in different states, will allow the person named in it to make decisions about the patient’s healthcare if they are unable to make decisions themselves.  A Living Will  is fairly simple to fill out.  Often, seniors want to list all of their children, so they can make a joint decision.  This is unwise.  When a loved one is seriously ill, it will be very hard to get a single decision from every family member, each of whom may be scattered all over the country or world.  It’s better to name one person and ask them to talk to the whole family before making the final decision according to the wishes of the patient.


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