Get Your Medical Records

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Your healthcare records; Who needs to know?

YOU! Yes, the answer is you. Doctors, hospitals, family, and other healthcare providers need your medical records to appropriately diagnose and meet your healthcare needs. But you are the most important member of your healthcare team. If you go into the hospital, change doctors, get a second opinion, want to ask questions, … this is VITAL information to have. Preventable medical errors is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.

So don’t bet your life that your medical records are read and understood by your healthcare team. Make sure that you and your healthcare proxy or loved one know where your records are and their basic contents.

We don’t know what medical crisis we may have or when it may happen, and hopefully we will not have to worry about it. However, if you are hospitalized and there is information about your health that has been overlooked it can lead to catastrophic results. So give yourself the gift of knowledge and preparation.

What records did you need and how do you get them?

Some Basic Records you should have:

  • Any major diagnosis
  • Tests results that support a diagnosis
  • Any test results that are of concern
  • Baseline test results
  • Hospital discharge records

 

How do you get your records?

  • You have the right to your medical records
  • Ask the doctor or hospital
  • You may have to fill out a request for records and provide ID
  • You may have to pay up to .75 per page. (keep in mind you can request certain records or records for a certain period of time rather than every record)
  • Some hospitals have portals that you can access via computer for no charge

 

Please comment and let me know if you have your records. Or share a story of having medical records or not having medical records.

Plan Ahead-Selecting an Elder Law Attorney

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Plan Ahead-Selecting an Elder Law Attorney

Many people when they hear elder law attorney think:

  1. I don’t think I really need one; what are they for anyway?
  2. An attorney costs too much money.
  3. My cousin, sister, uncle, friend is an attorney so they will help if I need it.

Sound familiar? Well it’s time to re-evaluate.

Let’s begin with “What is an elder law attorney?”

An elder law attorney specializes in, you guessed it, elder law. “Elder and Special Needs Law are specialized areas of law that involve representing, counseling, and assisting seniors, people with disabilities, and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, from estate planning to long term care issues, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for the individuals.” Typically, Elder and Special Needs Law attorneys address the client’s perspective from a holistic viewpoint by addressing legal, medical, financial, social and family issues.”-National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

This is a nice neat definition from NAELA. However, not only do you need to find an elder law attorney, you need to find a good one who actually does “address the client’s perspective from a holistic viewpoint.” They need to really know the many facets of elder law; law changes all the time so you need to make sure your attorney is keeping up and knows the ins and outs.

Yes, lawyers cost money. However, not putting things in place so that your needs can be addressed is much more costly and heartbreaking for your entire family. Commonly, we see elder law attorneys provide estate planning (so one’s hard earned money and assets are given and used as they wish), creating wills and power of attorney, as well as, Medicaid planning and application processing. Unfortunately, those who wait until the crisis hits to seek legal help are faced with fewer options and may lack access to the care they truly need.

 

Here is what you need from an elder law attorney:

-An elder law attorney who will first listen to your individual situation

-From this information (and potential paperwork), they lay out and explain a plan to protect your assets and promote your highest quality of life

-Follow through with this plan and tie up any loose ends so that in the event of a crisis you don’t need to worry about this aspect.

-Can refer you to a healthcare coordinator and/or patient advocate who can provide healthcare advocacy and navigate you through the system of care.

 

 

Tips to find a good elder law attorney for your needs:

-Do they offer presentations on elder law basics? Or free consultations?-This is helpful because many people don’t know how much an elder law attorney can help and this gives insight and shows they may know what’s current in the industry.

-How long have they been practicing ELDER LAW? There are plenty of young, fairly new elder law attorneys who are great. I just suggest elder law attorneys who specialize in elder law alone. It’s the old adage “a jack of all trades and an expert at none”.

-If you know some of your needs, ask the firm how many similar type cases they do annually. And ask if there are general pitfalls with this kind of case.

– (shameless plug alert) A referral from Care Answered or a friend who has used the attorney (for similar needs) with great success is also great. Care Answered only refers elder law attorneys we actually know and are trusted. Remember we only work for you and we treat you like family so we only refer lawyers we would use ourselves.

-Do your homework, just because the nursing home, long term care facility or other healthcare entity suggests a lawyer does not mean they are good. They may even work for the facility or they may have just dropped off their business card.

 

Stay tuned for more on our Planning Ahead series. And don’t forget to comment or contact us with your questions.