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Why are subpoenaed medical records sent to the court, and not the office of the attorney who requested them?

Why are subpoenaed medical records sent to the court, and not the office of the attorney who requested them?

Requesting Subpoenaed Medical Records

When you have filed a medical malpractice case and your case goes to trial, your lawyer will always request records from different doctors who have treated you. The defense attorneys will also be receiving records from the doctors and hospitals who have received treatment.

The defense might also request records from your employer. However, the person who is providing the records or medical records, simply does not send copies of the records, directly to the concerned attorney, so that the attorney can bring those record to court and use them at trial. The main reason this is done is to avoid the issue of chain of custody.

What happens if the Subpoenaed Records are Sent Directly to Attorneys

For example, if your lawyer subpoenas medical records and photos from one of your treating doctors. Now, suppose the doctor’s office sends the records and photos to your attorney, and he brings them to court. At the appropriate time, your lawyer will call the doctor on the witness stand and will try to introduce those photographs into evidence.

However, the defense will object saying that the records may not be accurate or they may not be accurate copies of the records provided by the doctor’s office. In order to prevent this issue of somebody tampering or altering the requested subpoenaed records, the doctor’s office, hospital, or the place where the records originate, are instructed to send the records directly to the court.

Now, as the attorneys get ready for trial, the judge will instruct the attorneys to go down to the subpoenaed records room to access the records. The attorneys will have to sign out the records from the room and actually physically bring them up to the courtroom. Now, both sides will have the opportunity to see which records have come in, based on the records that they had subpoenaed. Then the attorneys will have the opportunity to go through them.

Subpoenaed Records must have Certification

Additionally, every single record that comes in must have a certification that provides the declaration of the record keeper of the doctor’s office or hospital. This certification will usually say, “I am so-and-so, the record keeper for this hospital, and I certify that these records are accurate and true copies of the originals that are maintained in our hospital or office”.

Only when there is this certification, the attorneys can go ahead and introduce the subpoenaed records into evidence, without any issue about worrying what the chain of custody was. Neither of the side will want a situation where the opposite side can claim the records were altered or changed. Then that side would want to compare their records with the records presented in court and there will be total confusion and one side will end up looking pretty awful.

Skipping the Middle Man

Instead, there is a simple solution by avoiding the intermediary, by sending the documents directly to the court to the subpoenaed record room, along with a certification from the source, claiming the records are unaltered and original copies.