A hospital received a subpoena on September 18th, for medical records that were due on September 21st. Attached to the subpoena was a letter dated September 5th. The letter had been sent to the patient’s attorney and it stated he had until the end of business on September 15th to object to the release of his client’s medical records. This statement is otherwise known as the “Statement of Assurance”.
The medical records were prepared and mailed on the 18th in order to make the due date of September 21st.
On September 24th, the patient’s attorney contacted the hospital complaining his client’s records had been released without the patient’s authorization and before he even had a copy of the records himself.
After investigating the complaint it was found the hospital had not received any indication that the patient’s attorney objected to the release of records. He had never filed a motion to quash. As far as the hospital was concerned, the patient’s attorney had been notified and received adequate notice prior to release of the records.
Three Must-Do Steps
Hospitals have no way of knowing situations between attorneys and their clients. There are three steps you must do to protect yourself, your patient and your organization.
- Ensure a “Statement of Assurance” is present when processing subpoenas.
- Be aware of all dates presented within the subpoena packet.
- Send the information as close to the due date as possible regardless of when the subpoena is received.
What are your thoughts?