April 28, 2015
I was served today at my practice with a subpoena duces tecum. What does this mean? It says I have to show up and bring my records to court this week. I have patients! What do I do? Do I have to go?
A subpoena duces tecum requires the production of documents, and does not require in person appearance. Typically this type of subpoena is accompanied with a check and an address where you can send requested records. You may not be a party to the underlying action, or even know what circumstances gave rise to the litigation. Which is why before you start getting postage ready, you have some due diligence to perform. For instance, make sure that a proper HIPAA authorization has accompanied the subpoena, because otherwise you are not authorized to disclose patient information. Also, before you send out documents you are the custodian of, I recommend requesting your counsel inquire into the nature of the matter at hand to ensure compliance does not open a bigger can of worms, and whether your compliance is expected and will be enforced or was more of a shot in the dark, and no party was actually that interested in following up.
Look before you leap!
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