My friend's sister passed away out of sudden two years ago because of the peritonitis. Couple of months ago before her death, she went to see her Obgyn doctor because of severe abdominal pain. The doctor ordered some tests and she did the pelvis MRI two months before her death. But from the medical record released, it did not show any follow up appointment or treatment after the MRI. So, her sister who is my friend tried to contact with her Ob doctor through his nurse, his group coordinator and other people but never got reply. Actually she just want to ask some questions. At first, the nurse asked her to send the permission letter from her sister's husband which allow her to talk her sister's situation with the doctor. But after the doctor got the letter, he never replied her. So, I am wondering, according to the law, does the treating doctor has the responsibility to answer the questions from the patient's family? If not, how can contact with treating doctors for any questions from the patient's sister? Thanks and appreciate your help!
They generally would have no duty to impart anything other than the medical records to the appropriate representative of the decedent.
With proper documentation, the legal representative of the deceased estate can request a copy of the deceased's medical records. The doctor is under no obligation to meet with the family or respond to questions. If the family believes that the death may have been caused by medical malpractice, the family should immediately consult with a Med-Mal attorney in your area immediately. The time period for asserting a Med-Mal claim in your jurisdiction may have already passed. Most Med-Mal attorneys will offer you a free initial consultation. Avvo is an excellent source for locating well-qualified attorneys in your area. Best wishes.
Immediate family may be entitled to the medical record. Unfortunately, you are not entitled to questioning the provider.
The author of this answer is an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of Arizona. Unless both you and the author have signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not the author's client, and the author's discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and are neither privileged nor confidential.
No is the short answer. The Probate Court would need to appoint a fiduciary of the Estate. The fiduciary could then sign a medical release authorization. After the doctor receives the release he/she can decide whether to speak with the fiduciary. There is no legal obligation to do so.
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