Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger: How Should a Medical Professional Respond to a Subpoena?

Receiving a subpoena—a legal request for your documents or for your presence at a formal, recorded interview—is often a first clue that there may be a claim against you. The records you deal with on a daily basis are often the foundation of a patient’s lawsuit against you or your hospital.  But how should you respond to receiving a subpoena for those records?

Why Would You Be Subpoenaed?

If you are being subpoenaed, something you did is of interest to a party in a lawsuit. It does not necessarily mean that you have done something wrong or that you are personally being sued, A subpoena can be a request for documents—a subpoena duces tecum—or for your presence at a recorded interview.  This blog post is concerned with the subpoena duces tecum, a request for records. This sort of subpoena usually requests your treatment records regarding a patient or patients.

A subpoena duces tecum can either be made in the context of a trial or in the context of “discovery,” which is the legal process through with parties exchange information preceding a trial. In the end, both types of subpoena duces tecum are just looking for documents, but the level of certification of accuracy in a trial subpoena is higher.

If you are subpoenaed, contacting an experienced attorney can help you determine whether you should respond, what documents you should provide, and whether the subpoena is something that should cause you professional concern. Attorney Sanger is experienced in providing medical professionals in Kansas and Missouri this sort of review and advice.

Do I Always Have to Respond to a Subpoena?

When you receive a subpoena, it will say the court that has jurisdiction over it and the parties that are in a legal dispute.  it will also which party sent it, and what documents they want you to produce. After reviewing that information, the question is, do you have to respond?

If you receive a subpoena from an out of state party or court, you are likely not subject to their jurisdiction and may not have a duty to respond. Deciding that you do not have to respond is not a simple decision, nor is one to be made lightly.  Contact an attorney with experience representing medical professionals if you are unsure about whether you are subject to a subpoena’s jurisdiction.

Similarly, if the subpoena requests a patient’s protected health information or PHI, you may be legally prevented from providing the information by HIPAA. If the subpoena seeks PHI, it should have an accompanying HIPAA release allowing disclosure. If it does not, you should not provide any PHI until you receive one.

How Long Do I Have To Respond?

How long you have to respond to a subpoena depends on what type it is.  If it is a trial subpoena, meaning there is an active trial underway, you may only have a few days to respond. However, if you have a discovery subpoena, you will likely have weeks.  In either circumstance, you should not just provide documents because you feel time pressure.  You can usually negotiate for more time if you need it, and it is a good idea to have counsel reach out on your behalf.

If you are a medical professional in Kansas or Missouri and are facing a threat to your license, call Danielle Sanger today.

Only an experienced attorney can determine whether a subpoena duces tecum is a routine request for information from a broad class of individuals or a prelude to an attack on you, your licensure as a medical professional, and your livelihood. Having experienced counsel help you through this process is vital. Receiving a subpoena begins a legally-intensive response process. It is important to proceed with caution and to attain skilled legal counsel to help you find the best path forward.

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger is prepared to advocate for your best interests and defend your livelihood and career. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and aggressive attorney for medical professionals.