Sunday, July 6, 2014

Medical Records/Cause of death

We are often desirous of finding out the medical history of our ancestors, even recent ones. We don't always have easy access, or even any access to those records: 1. You have to know who their doctor was or where the records are kept. 2. Because of confidentiality, even if you find who has those records, they are strict in who they are willing to release the information. 3. The records may no longer exist, even though they are suppose to be kept for a relatively long time. 4. The company may no longer exist.

Are there ways to get around this??? Yes there is. You may not get as detailed of a report, but you can get some idea of what their health issues were.

How can you find it, you ask? Here are several places that you have easier access to and can check them out:

1. Death certificates (there are also doctors names signed on these records that might lead you to more detailed information.
2. For ancestors further back before death certificates, this may be harder to track down. Church records sometimes would list the cause of death.
3. Mortality Indice - if you are fortunate enough to have your relative die within the year of the index.
4. Military records. Go for their complete packet. You will want their retirement information. If a widow applies for benefits, she has to produce proof of death. The medical information and cause of death are often recorded.
5. Railroad retirement records - again when the widow applies for benefits.
6. Social Security benefits - now I haven't tried this avenue, but I know that survivor benefits are issued and this may be another source of information for you.
7. Insurance records. If you are fortunate enough to have knowledge or information on what insurance company an individual used, you should be able to get information from them as well. You may have to prove just cause for receiving this information.
8. Veteran's hospital. My grandfather-in-law died in a Veteran's hospital. I requested his records, which I eventually got. But it gave me information about his death.
9. Census Records - they obviously won't give cause of death, but sometimes you will find illnesses listed.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and if you know of any leave a comment. We would love to add it to this list.

By using this method, and if nothing else, you can get general ideas, or trends, or groupings of illnesses in your family tree. Some folks even create a medical family tree. If you have serious health issues, this can possibly be beneficial for you to find out.

Now You Know!!!