[ Friday, June 04, 2010 ]
HIPAA limits on ex parte contacts:
Interesting Georgia case just reported by BNA
(subscription required). Lawyers for a medical malpractice defendant hospital wanted to talk to the physicians who had treated plaintiff. Georgia law permits that access where the plaintiff has put his medical condition at issue in the litigation. However, HIPAA states that the disclosure should be subject to a protective order, wherein the party receiving the information agrees that it will only be used in connection with the litigation and will be returned or destroyed when the litigation is over. The Georgia Supreme Court allowed the hospital to have access to the physicians (noting that the physicians were not compelled to participate or produce information) but noted that the protective order should limit the disclosure of the PHI to that information relevant to the medical condition the plaintiff put into issue in the lawsuit.
Obviously, the plaintiff's lawyers wouldn't want those discussions to be ex parte; they'd want to be there to know what the doctors are telling the defendant. But it seems, in Georgia, if a plaintiff puts his medical condition at issue in a lawsuit, his doctors can talk to the defendant's lawyers if they want to, as long as there's a sufficiently closely drawn protective order on file in the case.
Jeff [2:03 AM]
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