A new bill continues to gain momentum in the New York State Assembly. The Personal Healthcare Information Privacy Act is designed to keep New York physicians accused of medical malpractice from privately interviewing other doctors who treated the victim but who are not parties to the malpractice suit - hopefully adding additional layers of privacy protections for victims of medical malpractice.
Details of Patient Privacy Protection Act
The New York bill overturns an earlier court case that permitted such interviews. The case at issue did include a caveat however: the interviews could only take place if in full compliance with the requirement of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known more commonly as HIPPA.
Under HIPPA, a patient's medical records are carefully guarded for privacy. As a result, the HIPPA requirement meant defendants were required to receive permission from plaintiffs before they could conduct these interviews. This requirement meant additional paperwork for both sides of the case as well as the courts.
Impact on Medical Malpractice Claims
The defending physician often uses these interviews as a chance eliminate their liability by questioning if the plaintiff's alleged injuries could be the result of a pre-existing condition, and not their own actions.
Defending physicians are obviously allowed to gather information about the treatments a patient received for a particular condition, but, since this information is available through medical files, the need for a defendant to have a private interview with treating physicians is unnecessary - which this new bill aims to codify in law.
The bill is intended to both streamline the court process by removing unnecessary requests for private interviews while upholding justice through providing the needed information in discovery by reviewing relevant files, not to mention it will continue to protect the privacy rights of medical malpractice victims.
If the bill is passed, the process of completing a medical malpractice case will be impacted. Navigating through this ever changing judicial system can be difficult. If you or a loved one is injured by the negligence of a medical practitioner, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice attorney to ensure all your legal rights are protected.