There is nothing easy about suddenly and unexpectedly losing a loved one. The deceased individual’s loved ones can face significant hardship after the passing, both emotionally and financially speaking. Although a wrongful death lawsuit may succeed, bringing a surviving family much needed compensation, the process can be fraught with legal complications.
One of these issues is the mere act of gathering medical records to determine if malpractice has occurred. Generally speaking, federal and state laws prevent healthcare providers from releasing their patient’s healthcare information without that patient’s consent. But how can consent be obtained after a person is deceased? Well, it can’t. However, there has been a lot of controversy as to whether the doctor-patient privilege ends after the patient’s death, and how that affects confidentiality.
Although it may seem like a deceased individual’s family should be able to obtain and release such medical information, this may not always be the case. In Texas, a family member only has this authority if he or she has been named as a personal representative for the deceased person. Yet, this general rule does not apply in the event of wrongful death litigation. In these instances, an attorney can send notice to a medical professional, along with certain documentation signed by the deceased individual’s parent, spouse or adult child to obtain access to the medical records.
Securing medical records can be challenging in any sort of litigation, but it is especially true in cases of wrongful death. In these cases, though, medical records are perhaps the most important evidence available. Therefore, securing this documentation in a timely manner can be critical to the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit. Those who need assistance with a wrongful death claim and any issues accompanying it may want to discuss the matter with their attorney.