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Records from Closed State Facilities
Records for closed State-operated Mental Health facilities are the property of the Department of Health and Human Services. It is important to remember that State facilities destroy records pursuant to retention schedules. Typically records are destroyed after 20 years. This means that the older the record is, the more likely the record no longer exists. However, some records from closed State facilities do exist and are housed in the Archives of Michigan.
If you are requesting your own records from a closed State-operated facility, please complete the authorization form by clicking the link below and sending it to the address listed at the bottom of the page.
DCH-1183 Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information
If you are requesting records from a closed State-operated facility for an individual other than yourself, proper authorization is required. If the individual is still living, the authorization form (link above) must be completed and sent to the address at the bottom of the page. If the individual is deceased, that person’s health information is still protected under federal and state confidentiality laws, and therefore, the Department must have the proper authorization before it can begin a search for records. Typically, if the individual’s consent cannot be obtained, a court order is required. You can seek to obtain a court order. Since the Department cannot provide you legal advice, it is recommended that you seek assistance of an attorney.
The Department is aware that HIPAA now only protects the privacy of a decedent’s health information for 50 years following the decedent’s date of death. 45 CFR § 164.502(f). However, HIPAA does not override state law that provides greater privacy protection. The Michigan Mental Health Code maintains the confidentiality of mental health records regardless of when the individual died or how long the individual has been deceased. The Department must comply with the Mental Health Code’s greater protection (even if the individual has been deceased for more than 50 years). If proper authorization from the Probate Court is obtained, a copy of the judge’s order should be sent to the address listed at the bottom of the page so that the Department can begin a search. Again, however, if the records are more than 20 years old, they were most likely destroyed. So even if you obtain a court order for the Department to produce records, WE CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT A SEARCH WILL PRODUCE ANY RECORDS.
- There is no fee if a search produces no records.
- There is no fee if the records total less than 25 pages.
- If the records total more than 25 pages, there is a copy fee of $0.25 per page.
- You will be contacted prior to the records being sent if there is a fee involved.
Requests for an individual’s own records or proper authorization to access another individual’s records can be sent to:
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Bureau of Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 30037
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Fax: (517) 241-1200
Note: Requests for records from open State-operated hospitals and centers should be made directly to that facility.