Can I take medical records from my son’s death in 2003 to be reviewed?

My son died in 2003; he was 1 year old. He had heart enlargement. I strongly think the physicians that treated him did more harm that led to his death. There was more than 9 specialists that had all came up with different diagnosis. He was put through 5 surgeries at the age of 1 and had a bad heart to begin with. Who is at blame for the his death the hospital or the doctors?

Asked on July 23, 2010 under Malpractice Law, Arizona


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  You as the parent and natural guardian of your son have the right to obtain and review his medical records.  You will need to provide an authorization as to same and it needs to comply with HIPAA standards.  Often hospitals will want their own forms.  As for the medical malpractice, go and speak with an attorney in your area.  Consultation is free.  What I am concerned about is what is known as the Statute of Limitations for wrongful death or medical malpractice in your state. The attorney can also help you to obtain the medical records.  Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, please accept our sympathy for your loss.

In terms of who is to blame, it might be the doctors, or it might be the hospital, or might be neither. In essence, you are asking the very reasonable question of, "Was there malpractice? And if so, who is responsible?" Malpractice is, literally, "bad practice"; it is when a medical care provider does not follow the accepted standards of the medical profession, or provide care of the generally accepted type and quality. When that happens, the medical provider may be liable for the inadequate care.

However, the fact that a patient did not do well, or did not even survive, is not by itself proof that someone was to blame. Unfortunately, medicine is still far more an art than a science; and sometimes, despite the best care in the world, the outcome is bad.

As the parent, you should be able to see your son's medical records. If you have any thought, as you seem to, that the care may not have been adequate, you should request the records and bring them to an experienced medical practice attorney to help evaluate whether you may have a case. Good luck, and, once again, our sympathies.

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