A subpoena is generally a document that is meant for compelling someone to do a particular thing. In most cases, subpoenas are required for compelling certain people to show up at the trial, and take the witness stand. However, in medical malpractice cases, subpoena duces tecum is served. Duces tecum is a Latin phrase, and this type of subpoena compels someone or some authority to provide the copies or original medical records of a particular person.
Duces Tecum subpoena will be used when the medical records of a person or persons are to be admitted into court at trail. This subpoena compels the office or authority to prepare the document, and send it to the court along with a copy of the subpoena.
Advantage of Duces Tecum Subpoena
Subpoena duces tecum will enable the plaintiff's attorney to get the required medical records from the respective office and admit it as evidence at trial. When the duces tecum subpoena is used, there is no need for a witness to come from the hospital or doctor's office to come and give evidence or to certify that the records provided are true and accurate.
Rules for Serving Duces Tecum Subpoena
When a duces tecum subpoena is served on a municipality or on a hospital that is owned by a municipality, then it is required to get a court's signature or judicial signature to give it more authority or weightage. Without this signature, the hospital or municipal body is likely to ignore the subpoena, and the whole process will have to be done again, and this time with the required judicial signature.
The duces tecum subpoena has to be delivered to the intended office or person in a particular manner. If the required steps are not followed in delivering the subpoena, then it could be rejected and the whole process will have to be done again correctly. There are special people whose job is to deliver these types of legal documents, and they are known as process servers. The process server will know the correct procedure of delivering the subpoena to the office or person from whom the medical records are required.
Do You need to Serve a Duces Tecum Subpoena in a Medical Malpractice Case?
In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff's lawyer will have copies of the client's medical records. Hence, the question is, can't the lawyer simply introduce these copies in court, which he already has on his file? The answer is no, because there is no way of certifying these records to be true and accurate. When the hospital or doctor is subpoenaed to provide the medical records, they are also required to certify the same as being accurate and true. Without such certification, the defense can easily claim that such records are inaccurate, incomplete, or they have been changed accidently or intentionally before the trial.
Through the duces tecum subpoena, the independent party that has no interests in the claim being made will be compelled to provide medical record copies and submit them to the court directly, along with the certification for accuracy. This provides reassurance to all parties concerned that the records have not been tampered or altered with.
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