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If Your Psychiatrist Dies...


... how will you get access to your medical record?

Most physicians probably operate in a group practice or clinic, but psychiatrists often work alone and with no staff. If you want another psychiatrist to take over your treatment after yours disappears, they may demand that you provide them with a copy of the records from former treatment providers. 

If you believe your psychiatrist has died or otherwise stopped practicing:

  • Start with a phone call or text.
  • Fax a request.
  • Send a request by email or snail mail.
  • Contact the state medical board.
  • Check the psychiatrist's practice Web site for instructions.
  • Search the Web for contact information.
  • Look for a notice posted at the office.
  • Contact other psychiatrists or psychotherapists in neighboring offices for help or information.

If you know that your psychiatrist practices alone you can prepare now:

  • Ask the physician what provision she has made for such a circumstance.
  • Ask where the records reside and how to obtain them.
  • If the psychiatrist uses a cloud-based medical record, get contact information. The EMR company may not provide access to your record at your request, but they might respond to a lawyer -- or a lawsuit.
  • Obtain a copy of your record now, and request interim records at least once a year.
  • Get a copy of the physician's authorization form.

Psychiatrists in solo practice should prepare:

  • Arrange for a survivor or colleague to assume responsibility for storing and providing records.
  • Publish instructions on a practice Web site which should include your authorization form along with a mailing address and fax number.
  • Ask your professional liability carrier for advice.