Court Discusses Subpoenas in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

In many medical malpractice cases, medical records from entities that are not parties to the case will be relevant to establishing or refuting liability. If a party is unable to obtain such records, therefore, it may detrimentally affect the outcome of his or her case. As such, it is critical for all parties to comply with the rules of procedure when subpoenaing outside parties. This was demonstrated in a recent Maryland medical malpractice case in which the court held that a patient information system did not have to comply with a subpoena issued by the defendant because the defendant did not comply with the Maryland Rules in issuing the subpoena. If you were injured because of negligent medical care, it is advisable to consult a trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding what evidence you may need to produce to recover damages.

Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant treatment providers, arising out of the defendants’ treatment of the plaintiff with opioid pain medication. The defendants then served the patient information system (PIS) with a subpoena, seeking the plaintiff’s medical records. The PIS objected to the subpoena, arguing that compliance would violate state and federal law and would require it to breach contractual agreements with healthcare providers.

Allegedly, three months after the PIS filed the objection, the defendants responded, stating that the PIS should be ordered to comply with the subpoena, but did not serve the response on the PIS. The trial court issued an order requiring compliance, and the PIS appealed, arguing that the defendant’s response was procedurally improper and untimely. The appellate court agreed and reversed the trial court ruling.

Issuing a Subpoena in a Maryland Medical Malpractice Case

Under the Maryland Rules, when a subpoena to attend a deposition and produce documents is served on a person, the person can oppose the subpoena by either seeking a protective order or filing an objection to the production of the materials within ten days. If the person files an objection within ten days, the party that issued the subpoena is not entitled to the materials sought absent a court order. Further, the order must be sought within fifteen days of the completion of the person’s deposition via a motion to compel, and notice must be provided to the person.

In the subject case, the defendants failed to comply with the Maryland Rules in numerous ways. First, the defendants did not file a motion to compel seeking the documents but filed a response to the objection instead. Further, the response was filed over three months after the objection and failed to provide the PIS with the response. The court was not persuaded by the defendants’ arguments that such errors were harmless, as the PIS had no opportunity to set forth its arguments in court. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak with an Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm due to a doctor’s negligent care, it is prudent to speak with a skillful Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims. The knowledgeable malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group will work tirelessly to help you find any evidence that will support your claim for damages, to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable outcome. You can contact us at (410) 889-1850 or through the form online to schedule a meeting.

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