Can I request medical information from mom’s nursing home without a POA?


Q: Can a daughter who doesn't have durable power of attorney request information from the medical staff at mom's nursing home or hospital?

A: There are two kinds of powers of attorney in general use. The first is known as a "general" power of attorney, and it is used to access bank accounts, sign checks, buy and sell real estate, and so on, in the name of the "principal" (that is, the person signing the power of attorney).

The other kind is a "medical" or "health care" power of attorney, which gives the "agent" (the person named to assist the principal) power to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal and to access medical records.

Thus, in most cases, the general power of attorney will not give the agent access to medical records. However, there are exceptions for family members and caregivers under the federal health care privacy act (HIPAA) that could allow the daughter access to the parent's medical records if disclosing such information is directly relevant to the patient's care or payment of their medical bills.

K. Gabriel Heiser is an elder law attorney and author of "How to Protect Your Family's Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets." Read his full biography

K. Gabriel Heiser is an attorney with over 25 years of experience in elder law and estate planning. He is the author of "How to Protect Your Family's Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets," an annually updated practical guide for the layperson.

Medicaid Secrets

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If you have the paperwork, your first stop is a lawyer (one specializing in elder law). If you don't have the paperwork, see the Office on Aging in the state where she is now living. You have a right to see what is being done. Insist on this right until they pass you on to someone who has the authority to help you.

This information is harder to come by with the modern set of privacy safeguards. But you are a blood-relative and possibly an heir. Keep pushing until someone gives you the information you need. Otherwise, you are going to end up like "peggy38."

It's not helpful when you are excluded from knowing about a parent's care. There can be all kinds of reasons for it. Keep pushing. It could be something as simple as your sibling is too overwhelmed to know what or how to share.

Blessings and peace be upon you.