I Did Not Obtain My Deceased Mother’s Hospital Records Illegally

I write this blog post to clear my name in accusations that I illegally obtained my deceased mother’s pregnancy and birthing records that lead to her death.

I acquired my deceased mother’s records and my birth records through legal channels.

This past week, I made a phone call to the Medical Records Department and was told that anyone may obtain medical records with proper authorization. I was also told that my mother’s and my records have long ago been destroyed.

The following transactions occurred decades before the HIPAA laws came into existence. Even with HIPAA laws, with a note from the deceased next of kin, the medical records could still be released to a doctor and then to a patient of that doctor.

When I was in college in Erie, Pennsylvania, from 1974 to 1978, I had several medical issues. In consultation with my doctor, he requested my deceased mother’s pregnancy records that lead to her death in 1956 and my birth records in 1956. Medical Records Department of Millard Fillmore Hospital wrote back to my doctor:

11-23-77 MFillmoreHos note DrDou


As the above note states in my handwriting: “my father, Leonard J Sippel, gave me his authorization on 12-26-77. The handwritten note was hand delivered to my doctor.”

On 2-3-78, the Medical Records Department of Millard Fillmore Hospital sent the following letter, and all records of my deceased mother and my birth records, to my doctor:

2-3-78 MFillmoreHos letter DrDou


~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.