How can I obtain my deceased mother's medical records?

2 answers | Last updated: Aug 22, 2016
Cherub asked...

My mother passed away two months ago after a month-long hospitalization. She did not fill out any legal paperwork due to not having any assets. My family all knew her medical requests so nothing was ever implemented legally. Now I would like a copy of her medical records, how can I obtain them?




Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of

You ask about getting your deceased mother's medical records. I am not clear about why you want them, but my experience is that most often, people want a deceased person's medical records because they suspect that something was not right about the care the deceased received. If that is the case, be prepared to pay a fee for the records. They may be quite extensive for a long hospitalization.

You can request records in writing from a hospital's medical records department. Professional photocopy services go into the records department, copy the records and charge you,the requesting party by the page. It can cost hundreds of dollars to copy records for a long hospital stay. Because of confidentiality laws, you will need something to prove that you have the right to see them. If you do not have written permission, seek the advice of an attorney. If your reason for wanting the records is that you think the treatment was below standard, find an attorney who specializes in cases involving what you are worried about. The attorney can request the records for the purpose of investigating a suspected problem with the care if she or he represents the family of the deceased.

Community Answers

Ajjodie answered...

My Mother recently passed away after my sister took her to the emergency room in the local hospital, after which she was transported to another local larger hospital, where she stayed for about 8-10 days. I would like to see my Mothers medical records from this time, however I am more interested in any Nurse or Doctors notes than the medical information.

I do not think the hospital did anything wrong. My sister however is another story. The story she texted me regarding WHY my Mom was being taken to the hospital was completely fabricated. I found this out because my Mother was in renal failure and did not talk more than a few words here & there until towards the end. When she was finally strong enough to talk is was 2 am and she talked for almost an hour straight to myself & the nurse I went & got. Her first words to me were ur sister lied. After which the nurse showed me the ER Records & compared them to my text messges we saw major descrepancies immediately. At that point my Mother stated she did not want my sister allowed in her room anymore, but she did not want to be the one to tell her. The nurse promised me that since my Mother was only taking Tylenol she was lucid and could speak for herself to request that, she said the hospital would tell her the patient did not want to see her. However there was shift change and the next nurse did nothing, she acted like it was a family squabble between my sister & I that she did not want to be involved in. My Mom was back to not being able to speak for herself. My Mom had told me in that talk she wanted to fight to live. The next day not only was my sister there she & my brother made the decision to stop my Moms treatment & let her die. They came in that night to remove her feeding tubes she was feeling better again by then & said, "good cuz I'm hungry" I had to explain to her they were not going to be feeding her anymore. She thought she was getting better & fighting to live, I alone had to explain to her tht she was going to die because the power of attorney already made that decision for her.

I want to read all the records to see what was told to the ER staff when she was brought in (I only got a glimpse with the nurse). I want to see if the nurse actually noted what my Mom was saying & her request not to have certain visitors. I want to see if she had a few more dialysis treatments if she could have lived & recovered, or if the best decision was made based on the circumstances.

Like I said I think the hospjtal staff was wonderful. This is more for me personally to know what really happened, what the nurses notes said about what their interactions with myself & my siblings were and how that dictated my Mothers care.

I have a copy of her death certificate, my brother, her POA died shortly after she did. What do I need to do to request the type of information I am looking for?