New Arizona law grants patients access to medical records from closing hospitals

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new law May 6 that requires state medical providers that are going out of business to give patients access to their medical records, AZ Central reports.

If a provider fails to comply with the law, it can face a $10,000 penalty and denial of future licenses for their facility, according to the report. Before closing, medical facilities will be required to either give health records back to patients or transfer the records to another organization, such as Arizona's health information exchange.

The new law comes after a dispute reported in February between creditors of two bankrupt hospitals in the state, Florence (Ariz.) Hospital at Anthem and Gilbert (Ariz.) Hospital. More than 300 patients were prevented access to their medical records after the hospitals closed in June 2018. The EHR was deactivated as a result of the bankruptcy dispute, which included the hospitals' EHR vendor Medhost, Somerset Capital Group, which provided computer servers to host the EHRs and Resolute Indigo-DLI Holdings, a New York investment firm and the hospitals' senior creditor.

Caitlin Secrist, 21, who has life-threatening pancreatitis, was seeking surgery in February at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to remove her pancreas, spleen and appendix. However, her surgeon would not move forward with the surgery until he had access to her full medical history to ensure her diagnosis was correct. Ms. Secrist, a former patient of Florence Hospital, was unable to access medical scans from the shuttered hospital, according to the report.

With the new law, former patients at Gilbert and Florence hospitals can request their medical records for free until June 23, after which they may be destroyed. Ms. Secrist is currently waiting for the Johns Hopkins Hospital team to finish reviewing her records.

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