For the last few months Chris and Shawna Daken have been fighting for the release of their daughter’s hospital records.
Horizon Health in New Brunswick has now agreed to release some of those records – as long as the family agrees to keep them private.
On Feb. 18, 16 year-old Lexi Daken went to the emergency room at the Dr. Edward Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton. She left after waiting for eight hours and receiving no mental health intervention. She died by suicide a week later.
Chris Daken says the family has been trying since April to access her hospital records with little success.
“We thought that it was going to be a simple process. We followed the steps that Horizon told us to request her health records, but here we are, kind of pushed into a corner saying we will give them to you under these conditions,” Daken said.
“For us as parents, it would be nice to have some closure on that part.”
After using the process provided by the health authority to access Lexi’s records as the administrator of her estate, they’ve finally agreed to release the records of her last two visits as long as the family promises not to share any of the information.
Horizon says they are bound by the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act and unable to share the records under any other circumstance. Since Lexi was 16 her consent is needed to disclose her private health information.
“The patient records were released with the understanding that the information provided would only be used for the purpose stated in the request,” said Margaret Melanson, vice-president of quality and patient-centred care at Horizon in an email statement.
“The legislation imposes an ongoing responsibility upon custodians – in this case, Horizon Health Network – to protect the privacy of patients, even after their death.”
The records from Lexi’s February 18 visit and February 24, the day she died, are the only ones being released. But Daken is left wondering why previous visits aren’t being disclosed, including a previous suicide attempt.
“I question why Lexi’s visit in November with her first suicide attempt, why wasn’t that included in the documents or the health records we’ll receive,” Daken said.
“We strongly believe that that visit played a very important part in the two visits that they shared with us.”
Daken says the family wasn’t planning on releasing the information anyway, but has been frustrated with the process of obtaining the records. He says they’ll likely agree to the conditions, hoping for some bit of closure.
“We want to have some closure. We want to see what’s in those records to see what happened that morning,” Daken said.
“So I’m sure we will sign them, but kind of against our will.”
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