The nursing home won't supply my mother's file; what can I do legally?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 21, 2016
Neeepenthe asked...

I am trying to get a copy of my mothers file from the nursing home she was in. I went in person to the facility and was given a HIPPA FORM 1 to complete and submit. After 6 weeks had passed without receiving anything, I called to get a status. I was told I had to speak with the "facility administrator" who told me he had "forgotten all about it" and had to check with their corporate legal department and call me back. It is now 10 days later and I have received nothing. I have done a lot of research on this, and to the best of my knowledge any nursing homes that are Federally subsidized (this one is) have a 30 day requirement to furnish medical records or respond. What are my rights and what should my next move be. Time is of the essence since I have been asked for this by a law firm who wants to investigate a possible claim.

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

Your question is about a nursing home and medical record provisions. As you have spoken with a lawyer about a possible claim and have tried in all appropriate ways to get the records, it's time to go back to the lawyer and let her or him know that the facility is dragging its feet, which is probably in violation of the law. The law typically allows a resident (or representative)to obtain the records upon presentation of a proper HIPPA release. Laws may vary from state to state, but as far as I know you have a right to get the records.

The lawyer can obtain the records for you. The process involves paying for a professional photocopy service to go to the facility and copy the entire record. Lawyers who represent clients in cases against nursing homes and hospitals do this all the time. Perhaps the lawyer wants you to pay the cost of getting the records, as it is unclear whether there is a case there or not, and the lawyer does not want to incur expenses if she or he decides not to take the case. I suggest that you offer to pay in advance for the record copying, based on the lawyer's estimate, and that you agree to pay the copy service's bill in full after the records are copied and sent to the attorney. The lawyer can then send the copy service to the nursing home right away and get the job done.