Order the Medical Records if You’re Being Blocked Out
One of the common complaints by parents involved in child custody disputes is the failure to communicate about health issues affecting the children. Often, one parent will call her lawyers complaining that the other parent took their son to the emergency room of a local hospital — without even notifying her, until after the fact. Or, a non-custodial parent will complain that the custodial parent has forged a close relationship with a family doctor, shuffling the children back and forth to checkups and filling prescriptions, without ever giving him progress reports.
If you feel that you’ve been excluded from the medical care of your children, or that the other parent has blocked your access to important medical information, you have a legal right to request the medical information directly from the source. You can request that your child’s medical records, charts, x-rays, doctor’s notes, hospital admissions and discharge reports and similar such records be produced for your review and inspection.
To obtain copies of the records, you’ll need to execute an authorization and release form that complies with the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA.
You can obtain HIPAA authorization forms directly from the doctor or hospital where your child was treated. You can also find various versions of the authorization form online. For example, see this and this.
To ensure compliance with your request, send a letter requesting specific records to the medical records department of the health care provider. Indicate that you are the parent or legal guardian of the child in question. Provide the child’s name, date of birth and social security number. Provide a patient identification number if you know it. Attach the signed and dated HIPAA authorization form.
Some doctors and hospitals charge a fee for reproducing patient records. If they outsource the records management process to an external company, the fee may be quite expensive. So, be sure to inquire about fees, and limit your request to specifically the records you want to see, for the particular period of time in question.
Invoking your right to obtain the records for your children permits you to stay abreast of your children’s health care needs. It may also reveal a lack of due diligence or a pattern of inattentiveness on the part of the other parent.