Parents of N.B. teen who died by suicide allowed access to some medical records under conditions

After initially being told no, the parents of Lexi Daken say they were recently informed they can have access to some of their daughter's health records, but under conditions.

The 16-year-old tried to see a psychiatrist at the Everett Chalmers emergency room in Fredericton on Feb. 18, according to her family.

They say she was suicidal, having already attempted to take her own life a couple of months earlier.

Despite waiting for over eight hours with her guidance counsellor, she never saw a psychiatrist, her family said. Instead, she was given a referral.

Lexi died by suicide six days later.

Her family decided to speak out about what happened, hoping to spark change within the healthcare system. One of the steps they took was requesting Lexi's medical records from Horizon Health Network.

Initially they were told no, because of the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act.

But recently they were informed through a lawyer that they could see the records from Lexi's last two hospital visits, but only if they sign a form stating they won't widely share the information, according to Chris Daken, Lexi's father.

Those last two visits were on Feb. 18 – the day she sought help -- and Feb. 24, the day she died.

"It's hurtful, angry, we feel like we're being backed into a corner," said Daken. "It's like saying, yes, we will give you this, but under our conditions."

Horizon Health's vice-president of quality and patient-centred care, Margaret Melanson, said in a statement:

"Any decisions related to the release of confidential health records are carried out in accordance with New Brunswick's Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act."

The family's MLA, Kris Austin, said he understands the purpose of privacy policies, but in certain cases, parents should have more rights.

"I think they deserve to see them, and then what they choose to do with them I think should also be their choice as the parents," he said.

Daken said the family will likely sign the form, hoping to get some answers, but they want to remain transparent with the public who've been following Lexi's story.

"We hope that by speaking out about Lexi's death that it will make some positive changes for the betterment of the people in New Brunswick," he said. "And we hope to God no other parents have to go through what we went through."

The New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate's office is expected to release a report sparked by Lexi's death, at the end of July.