§ 5100.35. Release to courts.

 (a)  Each facility director shall designate one or more persons as a records officer, who shall maintain the confidentiality of client/patient records in accordance with this chapter.

 (b)  Records shall comply with the following:

   (1)  Whenever a client/patient’s records are subpoenaed or otherwise made subject to discovery proceedings in a court proceeding, other than proceedings authorized by the act, and the patient/client has not consented or does not consent to release of the records, no records should be released in the absence of an additional order of court.

   (2)  The records officer, or his designee, is to inform the court either in writing or in person that, under statute and regulations, the records are confidential and cannot be released without an order of the court. Neither the records officer nor the facility director has any further duty to oppose a subpoena beyond stating to the the court that the records are confidential and cannot be released without an order of the court; however, nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing such a court order.

   (3)  If it is known that a patient has a current attorney of record for the given proceedings, that attorney shall be informed of the request of subpoena, if not already served with a copy, and shall be expected to represent and protect the client/patient’s interests in the confidentiality of the records. The person whose record has been subpoenaed shall be notified of such action if they are currently receiving services and their whereabouts are known, unless served with a copy of the subpoena. Those currently in treatment shall also be advised that they may wish to obtain an attorney to represent their interests. In the case of persons no longer receiving services, the facility shall send this notification by certified mail to the last known address.

 (c)  If a present or former patient sues a person or organization providing services subject to the act in connection with said patient’s care, custody, evaluation or treatment, or in connection with an incident related thereto, defense counsel for said service provider shall have such access to the present or former patient’s records as such counsel deems necessary in preparing a defense. Counsel receiving such records shall maintain their confidentiality and shall limit the disclosure of the contents thereof to those items they deem necessary to allow counsel to prepare and present a proper defense.

 (d)  All employes of a facility shall be informed of the rules and regulations regarding confidentiality of records and shall also be informed that violation of them could potentially subject them to civil or criminal liability. Training for employes regarding confidentiality remains the responsibility of the facility director.

Notes of Decisions

   Release Appropriate

   Information in defendant’s treatment records which had been the subject of earlier newspaper articles and had been discussed without objection in deposition was a rational and admissible source for the jury to consider in determining the harm caused to plaintiff’s reputation which was brought about by the emotional and mental stress under which defendant wrote articles with underlying hatred for plaintiff and plaintiff’s pursuit of prosecution of defendant for wiretapping. It was beyond argument that defendant’s mental and emotional problems had become so familiar in the public domain that the additional notice of certain medical records had no impact and was harmless evidence in this case. Sprague v. Walter, 656 A.2d 890 (Pa. Super. 1995); appeal denied 623 A.2d 336 (Pa. 1996).

Cross References

   This section cited in 55 Pa. Code §  3800.20 (relating to confidentiality of records); 55 Pa. Code §  5100.4 (relating to scope); 55 Pa. Code §  5100.32 (relating to nonconsensual release of information); 55 Pa. Code §  5200.41 (relating to records); 55 Pa. Code §  5200.47 (relating to other applicable regulations); 55 Pa. Code §  5210.26 (relating to records); 55 Pa. Code §  5210.56 (relating to other applicable regulations); 55 Pa. Code §  5221.52 (relating to notice of confidentiality and nondiscrimination); 55 Pa. Code §  5230.17 (relating to confidentiality); and 55 Pa. Code §  5320.26 (relating to confidentiality).

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