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New York Court Discusses Grounds for Compelling Disclosure of Mental Health Records in Medical Malpractice Cases

People that pursue medical malpractice claims often are required to produce their medical records, including mental health records, throughout the course of litigation. Such records often contain sensitive information, however, and some plaintiffs may be reluctant to provide them to the defendant without just cause. In a recent cardiology malpractice matter, a New York court set forth an opinion explaining what constitutes sufficient grounds to compel a plaintiff to provide authorizations for mental health records. If you sustained damages because of a negligent cardiologist, it is smart to consult a knowledgeable Syracuse cardiology malpractice lawyer to assess your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff presented to the defendant with multiple symptoms related to his underlying heart condition. The defendant subsequently performed surgery on the plaintiff, which the plaintiff alleged was done in a negligent manner, causing him to suffer injuries. As such, he filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant.

Allegedly, during discovery, the defendant asked the plaintiff to complete authorizations that would allow the defendant to obtain his mental health records. The plaintiff declined, and the defendant filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to comply with his request. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Grounds for Compelling Disclosure of Mental Health Records

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that the defendant argued that many of the symptoms the plaintiff alleged were caused by the negligently performed surgery, like shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness, pre-dated the procedure and were caused by mental health conditions rather than the defendant’s treatment of the plaintiff. Specifically, the court explained that the defendant pointed to numerous instances in the record that indicated that the plaintiff suffered from psychological conditions, many of which resulted in the issues the plaintiff complained of prior to the surgery.

Further, the record indicated that other treatment providers had been unable to establish a non-psychological cause for the symptoms in question. Based on the foregoing, the court found that the defendant had met the burden of producing sufficient evidence to demonstrate that discovery on the issue of the plaintiff’s mental health history was warranted to determine whether medical malpractice or an underlying condition caused the plaintiff’s concerns.

Thus, the court ruled that, pursuant to the standard established by New York law, the plaintiff was required to complete authorizations to allow the defendant to obtain his mental health records. As such, the court vacated the trial court ruling and issued an order in favor of the defendant.

Meet with a Skillful Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse

Cardiologists are expected to take their patients’ complaints seriously, and if they do not, it can result in inadequate treatment. If you were harmed by cardiology malpractice, you might be owed compensation, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our skillful medical malpractice attorneys possess the knowledge and resources needed to help you seek a just outcome. You can reach us by calling 315-479-9000 or using our form online to schedule a conference.

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