August 20, 2013



I received a subpoena for medical records.  Do I have to send the records in?  What is the procedure? I don't really understand the notice.

Dr. J


Unclear.  Depending on the legitimacy and form the request, yes you may have to comply.  If the Subpoena is not court ordered and has an attorney contact on it, you may want your healthcare counsel (or someone in your office if you prefer to do it on your own - ill-advised!) to contact the sender and inquire what the request is for (if you are not sure based on the notice.  You should also find out if your subpoena was received as a matter of course or your records are a point of contention for whatever dispute stemmed the request. 

Other tactics often employed - ignoring the request.  Also ill-advised.  If hard pressed, counsel could request a "so ordered" subpoena from the court and you would be held in contempt for failing to answer.  Not a good idea. 

Another area to look into for any request is the legitimacy of the HIPAA authorization authorizing the disclosure.  If a subpoena is not not accompanied by a valid HIPAA release form, you are not authorized to disclose.  Valid = proper form of release, with an actual signature from the patient, that I recommend you confirm with the patient they actually signed. 

Specific questions on a subpoena - I can't answer without seeing the document.  Send it over for review before answering if you are concerned. 

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