AMCNO Files Amicus Brief for Griffith v. Aultman Hospital

On October 8, 2014, the Supreme Court of Ohio accepted jurisdiction over and agreed to review Griffith v. Aultman Hospital. This case involves claims by the estate of a deceased patient against a hospital. The precise legal question raised by Griffith concerns the scope of medical records, and whether all patient data generated should be considered a component of a patient’s “medical record.”  Specifically, the Supreme Court will determine whether a patient’s medical records are only those records kept by a hospital’s Medical Records Department or whether they include information received elsewhere, such as a Risk Management Department.

While this question is relatively narrow, the implications of the Court’s ruling could reverberate in hospitals statewide. Should the Court expand the definition of medical records, hospitals and physicians will likely be subject to greater restrictions on how they record patient information, where that information is stored, and what health information must be produced in response to a patient query.

In light of these issues, the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio (AMCNO) has decided to file an Amicus Brief arguing that the definition of the “medical record” should continue to be defined by health providers, and not by the courts.

AMCNO’s specific interest in this litigation includes opposing attempts to compel impossibly overbroad data retention policies on medical providers, including physicians and hospitals.  The statutory interpretation of “medical record,” being advanced by plaintiff would result in an unworkable and interpretation of the terminology “medical record,” as defined in R.C. 3701.74.  If this interpretation is adopted, the likely result will be endless discovery disputes, as well as unwarranted claims/allegations of obstruction, spoliation, etc., against medical providers.

For more information, see our March/April issue of the Northern Ohio Physician magazine.

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