TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was a bold move that angered many parents who have tried for years to get their children’s records after a popular Hernando County doctor passed away.
Courtney Bain brought a U-Haul of medical records to a park and laid them out in bins on Dec. 19. She advertised on Facebook and told parents to come and get them.
Unfortunately, many parents say they didn’t get the message and were angered that their children’s personal information was in a park.
“First impression was anger,” said David Fetz, a parent. “The idea that records of my two children are sitting there for anyone in the public to go through. Obviously, their medical history and of course any other important information that can go along with that.”
When Dr. Russell Bain of Babies & Beyond passed away, his records went to his estate and his daughter found herself responsible for distribution to families.
“It’s upsetting that some people have definitely said mean things and stuff,” she said. “But I’m only one person, and I did lose my father, and it’s been really tough on me and I’m doing the best I can.”
USF Public Health Professor Dr. Jay Wolfson says the park move was a risky move, but Bain didn’t really have many options left. She’s only legally required to hold onto the records for two years, he said.
“It’s like a disaster waiting to happen,” Wolfson said of the park distribution. “If you or I or unscrupulous individuals could hop over there and start taking down social security numbers and personal information.”
But the state won’t help families in these cases, he said.
“This doesn’t happen all that often, so the board of medicine and the Department of Health don’t really have an articulated role they routinely play in coming in and saying, ‘we’re going to take control of these records,'” he said. “No, they don’t do that. They don’t want to do that. They place the responsibility on the estate.”
Bain hasn’t returned calls inquiring how many records are left or if she has destroyed them yet. That leaves parents wondering if they are out of time to get records.
In the meantime, Wolfson recommends doctors get a plan in place for medical records, so their families aren’t left with this burden. As for patients, he says you should request copies of your medical records periodically so you can give them to a new doctor if you need to.
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