Defendant's Ability to Obtain Plaintiff's Complete Medical History -


What limitations exist, if any, on a defendant’s ability to obtain a plaintiff’s complete medical history, both pre and post incident?

When a person files a civil action, the physician-patient privilege is lifted to an extent and discovery can be compelled for documents “that related causally or historically to physical or mental injuries that are relevant to issues” in the lawsuit.  R.C. 2317.02(B)(3)(a); Hartzell v. Breneman, 7th Dist. Mahoning No. 10 MA 67, 2011-Ohio-2472, ¶ 18; Mason v. Booker, 185 Ohio App.3d 19, 2009-Ohio-6198, 922 N.E.2d 1036, ¶ 14 (10th Dist.).  When documents are withheld on the basis of privilege, Ohio Civil Rule 26(B)(6)(a) requires a privilege log.  Hartzell, at ¶ 19.  Then, if there is a dispute over that claim of privilege, that “the records are not causally or historically related to the injuries at issue in the action,” a court will conduct an in-camera review to determine what documents are and are not privileged.   Id. at ¶ 22; Folmar v. Griffin, 166 Ohio App.3d 154, 2006-Ohio-1849, 849 N.E.2d 324, ¶ 24 (5th Dist.).  “However, the burden is on the party claiming privilege so that an in-camera hearing is unnecessary if that party fails to show a factual basis for believing in good faith that the records are not properly discoverable.”  Hartzell, at ¶ 19.

However, most parties usually agree to sign a HIPAA release form to release the medical records.  Ohio has a standard release that all healthcare providers must accept.$1_PH_FF_N_APP1_20181224_0817.pdf.

Federal Courts in Ohio apply state law on this issue.  Jewell v. Holzer Hosp. Found., Inc., 899 F.2d 1507, 1513 (6th Cir. 1990).