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How to request medical records of a deceased parent

Updated November 21, 2016

Once parents pass away, their medical records are closed and, because of the many privacy laws in effect, you may run into some difficulties obtaining their information. However, this genetic information is important for health problems that you or your next-of-kin may experience now or in future. To obtain the health records of deceased parents, you need to be the estate holder or next-of-kin by law.

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  1. Check to see what your state requirements are for acquiring medical records for a deceased parent. Requirements in each state differ slightly. The usual next-of-kin order is spouse and then child, so if both of your parents are deceased, you should have the authority.

  2. Contact the medical facility or agency that is holding the medical records of the deceased parent and request the “Medical Records Release Authorization” form, or something similar to that title. You’ll need to request a form from each facility where your parent obtained medical help, such as a hospital, a nursing home, a regular physician, a dentist and so on.

  3. Send the request back with the form filled out, with a reason as to why you want the records and with proof that you have the right to access the records. This might mean sending a copy of your birth certificate or some type of identification that proves you are the child of the deceased person.

  4. If you run into difficulty obtaining records, hire a lawyer or attorney to help you. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) form or a subpoena may be needed for certain records.

  5. Warning

    Before a person dies, he or she can sign a form that disallows part or all of their records from being disclosed. If you are denied access or are restricted from obtaining access to information on this basis, you could contact an attorney to try to obtain this information on grounds of a specific reason, but it is not certain that you will be able to do so.

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Things You'll Need

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of next-of-kin status
  • Medical Records Release form
  • Lawyer or attorney

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