We often get a lot of phone calls from people that are trying to obtain their loved one’s medical records. Unfortunately, most medical providers, specifically hospitals, are very hesitant to provide a deceased relative’s medical records, especially if they feel as though there is a good chance that they will get sued. However, they are still obligated to turn over a relative’s medical records, so long as the requesting person meets certain requirements.
Mississippi has a specific statute, § 41-10-3, that deals with this exact situation. Under Mississippi law, an heir can get access to their deceased relative’s medical records if they meet some key requirements. First, the person has to be an heir of the deceased, meaning that they are a person who is entitled to a distribution from the estate of the deceased relative. An example of this is a child of the deceased person, or perhaps a sibling if the deceased had no children.
Second, the heir can only request medical records. This is self-explanatory; however, under the statute, it does not include material or documentation prepared for peer review or quality assurance activities. In other words, if the hospital conducted a study to ensure that the quality of its services is being met, and the study included information about the deceased relative, then that information is not subject to release. It also does not include communications between a dispatch service concerning the request for services, such as 911 calls or dispatch logs (keep in mind that those records can be requested through other means, such as a public records request).
Third, no executor or administrator has been appointed by a chancery court regarding the estate of the deceased relative. Really, what this means is that no one has tried to open an estate for the deceased relative at the time that the records are requested.
Fourth, the requesting heir can only obtain copies of the decedent’s medical records.
Finally, the requesting heir must present an affidavit to the medical provider. In that affidavit, the heir must state that he or she meet the requirements of the statute and that no executor or administrator has been appointed by a chancery court with respect to the deceased relative.