How To Obtain Medical Records From Nursing Home Facilities in South Carolina

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You can have many reasons for wanting your loved one’s medical history from a skilled care facility. You may be transferring the resident from one place to another. You may also need the records to pursue legal action. No matter the reason, Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can help you learn how to obtain medical records from a nursing home in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Physicians’ Patient Records Act

South Carolina Code Section 144-15-10 outlines the Physicians Patient Records Act. It states that the patient or a legal representative has a right to access health records from a doctor, hospital, or other provider. These records include copies of medical bills.

The Physicians’ Patient Records Act states that healthcare providers have 30 days from your request to let you see or give you a copy of the medical records. The provider is allowed to charge a fee for these records in many cases, but the law limits the amount it may charge you. These fees may include actual postage if you have the documents mailed to you.

What if you want to look at records from a long time ago? The facility should have documents dating back at least 10 years, as the law requires. Some nursing homes may keep them longer.

What to do if you believe the facility violated your rights

Ask Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm for information on how to obtain medical records from a nursing home if you feel it violated the patient’s rights. You can file a written complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can also file a complaint with the South Carolina agency that governs the nursing home.

HIPAA protects your right to obtain records

In addition to South Carolina laws, the federal HIPAA Privacy Law also gives patients rights to their medical records. HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It provides guidelines that protect personally identifiable healthcare information.

Obtaining Records for a Living Resident

Knowing how to obtain medical records from a nursing home expedites the process. Ask the facility about its nursing home medical records guidelines. They may have a form for you to complete.

You may also find further information in the facility’s notice of privacy practices. HIPAA laws require healthcare providers to give you a copy of these when treatment at that facility begins. If you don’t have a copy of the nursing home’s privacy practices anymore, you can ask for another one.

Nursing home medical records guidelines with no standard form

If the nursing home doesn’t have a standard form to complete for requesting medical records, ask what information they need from you. Your request must be in writing regardless of how you ask for records. Include information such as:

  • The name of the nursing home
  • Your contact information
  • The date of your request
  • The patient’s birth date
  • A description of the records you want

You should also specify whether you want to see the records, receive a copy, or both.

Obtaining Records for a Deceased Resident

HIPAA rules specify that once someone is declared the executor of a deceased person’s estate, getting medical documentation does not violate privacy laws. The executor may receive them.

State laws regarding how to obtain medical records from a nursing home

If no one is designated as an executor, state laws vary. In South Carolina, you don’t automatically have the right to get your deceased loved one’s medical records simply because you are related. You must be the estate’s representative, such as an executor or administrator.

What the executor needs to obtain records

If you are the estate executor requesting medical records, you need to provide:

  • The probate will that names you as the executor or personal representative
  • The resident’s death certificate
  • A form or written request for medical records

If you do not have a probate will, you’ll need to provide an order appointing the estate’s representative in full capacity. It authorizes the representative to act on behalf of the estate. That information comes from the probate court of the county in which the deceased person last lived.

If your loved one had not appointed anyone in a will or other legal document, South Carolina can designate someone for that position.

Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate

A South Carolina medical power of attorney grants a person or entity the right to make medical decisions on a patient’s behalf if they cannot do so for themselves.

People can specify what healthcare decisions they want the medical power of attorney to make, and your loved one may have done this for themselves. You may also obtain medical records from a nursing home if you have medical power of attorney.

Note that a medical power of attorney is distinct from a general or financial power of attorney. The designations and responsibilities differ, although one person or entity may serve as both.

The difference between a medical power of attorney and a healthcare surrogate

A healthcare surrogate also makes medical decisions for someone when they cannot make choices for themselves. However, a healthcare surrogate is appointed when no power of attorney exists.

Having a healthcare surrogate form does not grant the authority to request medical records. Your loved one’s nursing home may have a policy outlining this distinction.

Our Lawyers Can Show You How To Obtain Medical Records From a Nursing Home

The process of obtaining your loved one’s medical documents can take an emotional toll. It may mean that you are transferring your family member to another facility. This process can be challenging for everyone as you and your loved one adjust to new surroundings and routines.

Unfortunately, getting medical records may also indicate you suspect abuse or neglect. While this situation can be difficult, you shouldn’t go through it alone. Talk to an attorney at Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm about how to obtain medical records from a nursing home. We provide a free initial consultation to learn about your claim and help you navigate your next steps.

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