Patient-practitioner confidentiality and the requirement for disclosure in legal claims, have long been cause for friction between lawyers and doctors. To assist you with understanding your obligations, and why your patients’ records may be requested when they bring a personal injury claim, we have summarised a few points for you below.
Depending upon the stage of, and processes required for, each type of injury claim, there are three general ways which your records may be requested:
- Notice for Non-Party Production
Before court proceedings are commenced by the individual (or sometimes the insurer in workers compensation matters), patient records are usually requested by the insurer, the insurer’s lawyer or the patient’s lawyer under a signed authority.
However, once court proceedings are commenced, records may be requested by the lawyer from either side under a Notice for Non-Party Production (NNPP) or a Subpoena.
Both a NNPP or a subpoena require the individual or organization they are issued upon to produce documents, as set out as follows:
|What documents must I provide?||All documents which fall within the category specified in the schedule||All documents which fall within the category specified in the schedule|
|Who are the documents initially provided to?||The representative which is named as the receiving party (which may be the same or different from the issuing party)||The court|
|Who pays my invoice for producing the records?||The issuing party||The issuing party|
We understand that subpoenas and notices for non-party production may cause undue stress in patient-practitioner relationships, and that your patients may come to you with questions about their right to confidentiality. If you have reviewed the scope of the request, and are uncertain whether you are required to provide certain documents when you receive a request for records, you should contact the issuing party.