After a person dies, a properly appointed personal representative of the deceased person's estate may obtain copies of or authorize a health care provider to release copies of deceased person's medical records.
However, according to Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 622-57, if a personal representative has not been appointed, then the deceased person's "next of kin" may obtain copies or authorize a health care provider to release copies of the deceased person's medical records subject to a couple exceptions.
The deceased person's "next of kin" is defined in this order:
1) The spouse or reciprocal beneficiary;
2) An adult child;
3) Either parent;
4) An adult sibling;
5) A grandparent; and
6) A guardian at the time of death.
Only the person who has superseding priority may make a request for the deceased person's medical record. A person claiming to be "next of kin" must submit to the medical provider an affidavit attesting to their status of "next of kin". A person has superseding priority when all kin ranked higher in the order above are deceased or incapacitated. Proof of the higher ranking kin being deceased or incapacitated will likely have to be provided.
The medical provider may rely upon the affidavit and, in doing so, will be immune from any claims relating to the release of the medical records.
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Samuel K.L. Suen is an attorney based in Honolulu, Hawaii specializing in estate planning, probate, conservatorship and guardianship matters.
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