Sometimes hospitals receive documents requesting that it produce information for patients that received treatment in its facility even when the hospital itself has not been sued. For example, as a patient, you may have been injured by a third party. You may then seek treatment at a hospital and later file a lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries. To find out how really bad your injuries truly were, the other person’s attorney may issue a “Deposition Subpoena for Production of Documents and Things” and serve it upon the hospital. The deposition subpoena will demand the hospital turn over such things as medical records and billing statements.
If a hospital receives notices like the ones referred to here, they should not ignore it! If the hospital fails to produce all the documents requested, the hospital could be held in contempt of court and fined.
Instead, hospitals should forward the deposition subpoena to their attorney who will review the scope of the documents requested to insure the hospital’s rights are protected. For example, the hospital attorney could object to producing medical records from a previous hospitalization if they are not relevant to the injury described in the lawsuit. Or, the hospital’s attorney could prevent access to the hospital’s confidential contract terms with health care payors if there is a claim that the hospital charges are too high. Remember, deposition subpoenas which are too broad require timely objections or the objections will be waived. Finally, the hospital must not rely on the patient’s attorney to assert the objections on the hospital’s behalf as those attorneys have no professional obligation to protect the hospital.
In short, hospitals should seek out the advice and help of a competent attorney whenever they receive a deposition subpoena..