On March 23, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that any patient data kept by a health care provider, regardless of location, is a medical record that must be released to patients and families. Earlier in the year, we wrote about the dangers of letting medical providers determine what is and is not a “medical record.” You can also read an in depth analysis of the court’s decision from former judge and University of Cincinnati College of Law professor emerita Marianna Bettman here.
Here is partner Gerry Leeseberg‘s reaction to this decision:
“It is simply inconceivable that any Justice would consider allowing the custodian of any information pertaining to a patient’s condition (and not just reflecting care provided) to determine what is, and what is not, available to a patient, or their legal representative by formulating their own arbitrary definition of what a “medical record” is. The suggestion that it should be permitted because “routine sanitization” of patient records is unlikely because of “health care regulation” is ludicrous. First of all, the latter has nothing to do with the former. Secondly, it is not “routine sanitization” that is a concern: it is the conscious decision to destroy relevant evidence that bears on responsibility and accountability for a poor patient outcome. There was nothing in the hospital’s position that prevented a hospital from making such an arbitrary decision on an ad hoc basis – for example, whenever a care provider advised risk management that there was a “problem”, or in response to a statutory notice of intent to sue. It’s called “doctoring the record” for a reason.”
Fortunately, the Supreme Court came to the correct decision and prevented hospitals from being able to strategically place certain records in a different department in an effort to avoid liability. This decision will allow for patients and their attorneys to fully and accurately evaluate whether they received proper care and treatment, as they will have access to every medical record, regardless of where the document is stored.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical negligence, please contact our office today to see if we can be of assistance to you.