If I Have Durable Power of Attorney for My Mother, How Do I Get Access to Her Medical Records?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My brother and I have durable power of attorney for my mother, who has Alzheimer's. I need to have access to her doctor and medical records. Who do I contact for this information?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

If you and your brother have been named as agents in your mother's power of attorney, the hard part has already been handled for you, as it gives you the same rights to the records as your mother would have.

As a first step, contact her primary care physician if she has one and explain your needs. He or she should also know of other medical specialists who may be attending to your mother's care -- and should be able to give you their names and contact information. You will need to show, mail, or fax a copy of the power of attorney that has authorized you to act.

If your mother is in a care facility, the easiest approach might be to bring your documentation and request to the patient care representative, who should be able to coordinate and assist with the process.

If you meet with roadblocks or refusals, you should also know that as agents appointed in the power of attorney, you and your brother also have the authority to go to court to compel disobedient medical personnel to comply with your requests. But this is often a time-consuming and frustrating procedure that may require the added expenses of hiring a lawyer for help. It is better by far to secure the records on your own -- even if that means biting your lip and asking pleasantly and biding your time and being a bit patient.