Lexi Daken’s parents will receive hospital records – as long as they don’t share them

Lexi Daken’s parents were eventually granted permission to see the records at the late teenager’s hospital in Fredericton – but only the last two visits and only if they agreed not to share the details with anyone else.

Chris Daken said he felt like he had been “heavily armed” in silence.

But he’s desperate to find out the details of what happened to his daughter, so he plans to agree to keep the information a secret.

Lexi, 16, went to a Fredericton hospital emergency room on February 18 and asked for mental health help. After waiting eight hours, she left without any mental health intervention. She committed suicide less than a week later.

“We don’t agree with having to sign this disclosure to get her medical records. As the administrator of Lexi’s estate, I thought that legally we were entitled to her medical records… without any condition.”

Although the letter from the attorney for Horizon Health Network does not mention a formal nondisclosure agreement, it does indicate that the records will be released “in accordance with an implied commitment” that the Dakens will keep the information to themselves.

The letter states that the documents “should not be passed on to third parties other than legal advisers or experts.” It specifically states that recordings cannot be provided to media or shared on social media.

One of the rocks painted for Lexi’s Legacy, a mental health awareness campaign. (Submitted by Chris Daken)

Daken believes remaining silent is the only way for him and Lexi’s mother Shawna to see the information they requested months ago.

“We’re very adamant that we think it’s a bad decision that we basically have to sign to see them. So, you know, they put their backs on us or push us into a corner and say: ‘Oh, well, yeah, we’ll give them to you, but it’ll be by our rules.’ “

The Dakenes have gone public with the circumstances surrounding their daughter’s death in February in hopes of improving the province’s mental health system and ensuring other parents don’t have to endure what they have. made.

Now, they fear that the gag will interfere with their pursuit of these goals.

“We’ve been so public with everything else that it’s kind of a kick in the stomach that we can’t share everything, although we probably would like to,” said Daken.

Lexi Daken was a grade 10 student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton. (Submitted by Chris Daken)

Lexi’s death sparked a wide debate about the shortcomings of the mental health care system. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard quickly recognized the system was flawed and promised to fix it.

In May, Shephard announced that the government would implement 21 recommendations during the fiscal year to make it happen.

A long-time Ontario mental health advocate has said there is definitely something wrong with New Brunswick’s mental health care system when parents of a 16-year-old have to go to court to access health records.

Bill Wilkerson, co-founder of Mental Health International, said adding a nondisclosure clause to this access is “outrageous.”

“How I would interpret this non-disclosure requirement is that they actually perceive that they have a risk and maybe something to hide. Otherwise, why would you put such a condition on a family going through the most blatant form of loss possible? “

Bill Wilkerson, co-founder of Mental Health International, said it was “scandalous” that a non-disclosure clause had been added to the release of Lexi Daken’s hospital records. (Submitted by Bill Wilkerson)

Wilkerson, who defended another New Brunswick mother in a similar situation, said hospitals should voluntarily provide families with such information to enable them to grieve and absorb what happened to their child.

He said the two New Brunswick cases indicated “a malaise within Horizon culture that is putting lives at risk.”

And while 16 may represent a sort of legal threshold that excludes parents from accessing private information, Wilkerson said 16-year-olds are still children and parents should automatically have the right to be included. and access their health records.

Daken doubts parents will allow their 16-year-olds to make their own decisions about cancer treatment, for example.

Since Lexi had mental health issues, Daken didn’t think she was capable of being responsible for her own healthcare decisions.

We were just his parents.-Chris Daken

“A lot of the decisions she would have made were probably not in her best interest because obviously her mind was not doing well.”

Daken said he never dreamed that once a child was 16, his parents would no longer have the right to access health records.

Daken said this was part of the reason he wanted to go public with Lexi’s story – so parents understand what happens when a child is 16, like Lexi did the month before she died.

In April, when Lexi’s parents requested her hospital records, they were told they would have to go to court to be named “administrators.”

“We were just his parents,” said Daken, who had to hire a lawyer to help him with the process. “His health records were his and we weren’t entitled to them.”

Daken is disappointed that if there is anything in the 143 pages of documents that could be of benefit to others, he cannot tell anyone about it. He still hopes that what he has shared about Lexi’s story so far has made other parents more aware of the difficulties that exist when trying to access documents.

Patty Borthwick is well aware of the difficulty.

She has been trying for months to gain access to her daughter’s hospital records.

Borthwick’s 27-year-old daughter Hillary Hooper was a patient in the psychiatric unit at Saint John Regional Hospital when she committed suicide on December 2.

Hillary Hooper committed suicide at Saint John Regional Hospital in December after numerous attempts to get help for depression. (Submitted by Patty Borthwick)

Hooper had made several suicide attempts in the months leading up to her death, and she was admitted to hospital after a particularly close call on November 13.

With the story of his daughter, Borthwick wondered how Hooper could have died in a secure psychiatric unit. In February, when she was strong enough, Borthwick began asking questions – and getting the rounds of hospital officials.

She has not yet received answers to her questions.

Earlier this month, Wilkerson sent a letter to Prime Minister Blaine Higgs, calling on the government to investigate the circumstances surrounding Hooper’s death.

Wilkerson said he was particularly appalled when hospital officials “used the privacy scam that hospitals frequently use to withhold information.”

Horizon Health Network was invited to comment on the Daken case on Tuesday, and a spokesperson forwarded a response from Margaret Melanson, vice president of quality and patient-centered care.

“As previously stated, any decision regarding the disclosure of confidential medical records is made in accordance with the New Brunswick Personal Health Information Protection and Access Act.


If you’re in a crisis or know someone who is, here’s where to get help:

CHIMO Hotline: 1-800-667-5005 / http://www.chimohelpline.ca

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868, Live Chat Counseling at www.jeuneshelpphone.ca

Canadian Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566

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About Linda Stewart

Linda Stewart

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