No. Generally, an individual cannot obtain medical records from an Illinois nursing home unless they power of attorney do so. However, in a situation where a loved one has died and there is no will in place at the time of the death, the Illinois legislature enacted Public Act 97-623 (effective November 23, 2011) which allows a decedents next of kin to obtain copies of medical records if the following process is followed.
If deceased has a surviving spouse, the spouse may make a written request for records from the nursing home provided that there was no executor or administrator nor had the deceased appointed a power of attorney for health case who was authorized to request medical records. The request is voided if the deceased objected to disclosure of his or her medical records in writing prior to their death.
If there is no surviving spouse, the medical records may be requested by the following surviving family members:
- Adult son or daughter
- Parent of deceased
- Adult brother or sister of deceased
Federal Law in Place to Protect the Privacy of Your Loved One
Residents and their legal representatives have the right by Federal law to obtain any medical records that the nursing home has, including their chart and clinical records. (See federal Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act, "HIPAA," and for Illinois law, see 735 ILCS article 7, part 20, § 8-2001-2003. Note, that if state and federal laws conflict, providers must go with the law that gives patients the most information).
In most cases, the nursing home by law must comply within 24 hours. The resident or their representative may have to pay for photocopies. Any requests should be made in writing and using a method where delivery is confirmed. Some things to keep in mind when requesting the medical records:
- Do not tell the nursing home what the records are being requested for
- If you are your mother's legal representative, include paperwork verifying this
- Specifically ask for a complete copy of your mother's chart
- Keep copies of your request
- Begin the process as soon as possible. Some cases may allow the nursing home up to 30 days to reply.
Importance of Nursing Home Records in Litigation
Families may request medical records from a nursing home simply to keep tabs on their loved one's medical condition. Or in the case of a patient injury, the records may help provide some answers as to how the injury occurred. In either respect, nursing homes have a duty to keep accurate records on their patients.
From the perspective of litigation involving a patient injury, records from the facility are a crucial piece of the puzzle when establishing how the facility's negligence ended up harming the patient.
As attorneys who regularly prosecute nursing home negligence, our law firm can assist you in both obtaining copies of medical records from facilities as well as reviewing the records to provide you with the answers you have about your loved one's care.
When it comes to utilizing nursing home records in a lawsuit against a facility, our office has two nurses on staff to review patient charts. These nurses play an important role in our nursing home litigation cases as they help organize the charts and can examine the documents for errors made by staff – including charting errors.
Do Not Accept Poor Care as Part of the Nursing Home Experience
If you have concerns about the care of a loved on in an Illinois nursing home, we invite you to contact our office for a free consultation with an experience nursing home law. Our office is headquartered in downtown Chicago, but we handle matters across Illinois. We will come to you.
For additional information see the following pages:
- How Long do Chicago Nursing Home Injury Lawsuits Take to Settle or go to Trial?
- How to Select The Best Nursing Home For Your Loved One?
- The Nursing Home Where My Father Was Staying Contacted Me After His Injury And Wants to Ask Me Questions Regarding His Health?
- What Agency Regulates The Nursing Homes to Ensure They Are Providing a Safe Environment?
- What Are Signs of Poor Care in a Nursing Home?
- What Is The Average Payout on an Illinois Nursing Home Injury Case?
- What Rights Does The Federal Government Guarantee For Nursing Home Residents?