There are a number of situations in which caregivers may need to obtain copies of an older adult’s medical records. When HIPAA was signed into law, one of the things it did was set in place rules surrounding what kind of information patients have access to, who can get that information, and how they can get it. Knowing how to collect the medical records for your aging relative is an important part of being a family caregiver.
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Why Caregivers Need Access to Medical Records
Getting copies of medical records can help caregivers to ensure their loved one gets the best care possible. Some of the reasons for caregivers to get medical records are:
To ensure new doctors and emergency teams have correct information.
To share details about a senior’s situation with other family caregivers.
To assist in coordinating care between health care facilities and providers.
To avoid putting the senior through tests or procedures they have already had.
How to Get Access
Getting access to your family member’s medical records shouldn’t be difficult, but it does require the proper paperwork to be in place. HIPAA protects the privacy of individuals, so the senior will need to give written permission for you to receive their records.
There are a couple of ways to do that:
Medical Power of Attorney: Caregivers who have medical power attorney have the right to receive medical records and make medical decisions for the senior.
Written Permission: Many facilities have a specific form that the patient must sign naming a person who they want to have access to their records.
Once you have the proper permission, the facility can provide you with paper copies or you may be able to access an electronic copy through an online patient portal.
You should be aware that providers have the right to charge a reasonable amount for copying and mailing costs. However, they cannot refuse to give you a copy of the medical records because of an unpaid bill. They also cannot charge for the labor involved in searching for and retrieving records.
The HIPAA laws are extensive and somewhat difficult to understand, so some providers are still a bit confused about who can receive medical records. It’s important to know the rights of your aging relative as well as your rights as a caregiver who has been granted the proper permission. The Department of Health and Human Services provides detailed information about HIPAA and how it affects individuals. You can find out more by visiting their website at hhs.gov.
Belina Calderon-Nernberg is the CEO and founder of 1Heart Caregiver Services. Recently offering 1Heart franchise business opportunities to the public, Belina provided the vision, leadership, and direction that the company needed to achieve its goal of making a positive difference in the homecare industry. As her greatest accomplishment, the company is now equipped with the expertise to expand its business operations to different States in the U.S. Belina brings with her a corporate experience of 25 years, with 15 solid years of experience as CEO of an employment agency and a senior care service company in Southern California. Belina has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of St. La Salle, Philippines. She has been the recipient of several awards given to emerging leaders in business, community service, arts, and entertainment. She has also been honored as an Ambassador of Goodwill by the HiFi (Historic Filipinotown) Neighborhood Council. This title is bestowed to carefully selected Filipino-Americans who are persons of integrity who have the ability “to promote, reach out, influence and mobilize public interest and support of the ideals, values, principles, and programs of the Historic Filipinotown.
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