What Are The Limits of Subpoena Power on Medical Records?
Nearly everybody is familiar with filling out HIPPA forms when they go to their doctors. These are meant to allow the exchange of medical information. HIPAA privacy rules apply even to people who are no longer living. What people may not realize is that there are some situations where a doctor is allowed to share information without a HIPPA release, including some instances of there being a subpoena.
Most often these are seen in cases where medical records may be needed and, when it comes to a case where your New York estate attorney is involved, it is likely that the case is one that involves your loved one’s final days, which could include bills. However, there are things that you should know about medical information being released because of a subpoena.
Even though it is possible to obtain medical records in a New York City estate without a HIPAA authorization, experience has shown that it is cheaper, faster and easier to obtain a HIPAA authorization from the New York City estate’s executor or administrator and include it with the subpoena. It is also wise to include a copy of the NY letters testamentary or letters of administration. This ensures faster and more guaranteed compliance with the medical record request from the physician or facility being subpoenaed.
Any New York City estate attorney who is attempting to subpoena medical information should give the doctor a reasonable assurance that they tried to contact the patient and give them a chance to object before the doctor releases the information. In the case of an estate, it would be the executor that would make the objection, most likely through his or her New York estate attorney. If there is no objection, then the records would be turned over.
Records may also be turned over via a court order without any HIPPA release. This is likely what would happen if there were to be an objection. Often, judges will put parameters on such information so that the counsel looking for the records only get what is relevant and not a patient’s entire medical record.
One must think carefully when they get a notice that there will be a subpoena for the medical records of a loved one. On some occasions, it may serve no purpose to object to the release, especially if all that is being sought after is limited information. This is because if there is a valid reason for opposing counsel to have that information, they will get it under discovery rules and objecting to it may end up simply just costing your family more in legal fees.
What is more common is to set parameters for what kind of information the family wants to be released to the requesting party. That way, if there is potentially embarrassing or simply irrelevant material in the medical records, the family can ask that it not be included. This, however, takes a great deal of cooperation between the New York City estate lawyer for the family and opposing counsel.
In any case, call your attorney when you have gotten notice that any attorney is looking to get medical records for you or a loved one, especially if it is a matter that you aren’t very familiar with. If you a New York City estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin, PLLC at (212) 233-1233.