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Arizona hospital patients have law on their side to get medical records

(Getty Images/John Moore)

PHOENIX – An Arizona young woman’s fight for her life and medical records reached a conclusion she likely never expected – a law that ordered closing health care providers to make patients’ files readily available to them.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1169 on Monday. The measure was prompted by the plight of Florence college student Caitlin Secrist.

Secrist needed surgery and couldn’t get it because her hospital records were unavailable to show another doctor.

The Arizona Republic first reported on the family’s struggle to get her files and treatment from bankrupt facilities in February.

Now, health care institutions or third parties that don’t comply face a $10,000 fine.

Secrist was diagnosed with pancreatitis, the paper reported. Symptoms include constant pain in the upper abdomen and she takes in food through a feeding tube.

Various treatments have been unsuccessful.

Her family finally decided to pursue surgery out of state, but the doctor wanted to see her records before agreeing.

An avalanche of frustration followed. Florence Hospital at Anthem and sister site Gilbert Hospital closed last June.

A court-approved plan allowed patients to request copies of their files until June 23 of this year. Nothing was in place to keep the records from being destroyed.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Heather Carter (R-Phoenix) will make records available to patients for at least six years after they last obtained medical services from the provider.

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