Doctors and hospitals hold all the power over parents and their children (see Medical and/or Mental Health Cases Policy). Parents often implicitly trust their child’s doctors and develop close relationships with them, especially when their child has complicated medical needs. Most parents do not request their child’s medical until there is a problem. But by then it’s often too late. Hospitals make a practice of barring parents from online medical charts and even block them from requesting medical records which is a violation of multiple state and federal laws.
If a family is being investigated for abuse and/or neglect, especially if they are being reported by a doctor, it is imperative that they have access to their child’s medical records in order to defend themselves and clear up misunderstandings. If a parent does not know what is being said about themselves or their child in the medical records, they have no way of knowing what is really going on. This is a violation of parental rights and needs to stop.
Parents are at the mercy of medical records. A doctor gets to say whatever they want about each visit with a parent and their child but often mistakes or misinterpretations are put into the record. Sometimes it is not until months or even years later that a parent finds out that a doctor said or did certain things and this is only discovered by getting a FULL set of medical records.
Doctors sometimes use the threat of CPS involvement to coerce parents into medical procedures they may be unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with doing at the time (including vaccinations, vitamin K shots, and eye ointment) which is another practice that violates multiple statutes depending on specific state laws. Coercion and fear of CPS involvement should never be used to threaten parents into “consenting” to any medical procedure. If parents are unaware of their rights, then they can easily fall prey to this practice. But at the end of the day, parents and their children have to live with the consequences of medical decisions and interventions.
Parents need real-time ways of contributing to, changing, and correcting medical records. They should know their rights when it comes to HIPAA and state laws and doctors and hospitals should be held accountable when they violate these laws.