Michigan Court Extends Physician-Patient Privilege To Apply To Any Entity That Obtains Protected Medical Information From A Doctor

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On March 12, 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals in Meier v. Awaad, No. 310808, held that the Michigan Department of Community Health (“MDCH”) could utilize the state’s physician-patient privilege to protect against disclosure of medical records in its possession. The court extended the privilege to the MDCH even though the language of the statute only purports to cover “a person duly authorized to practice medicine or surgery.” In doing so, the decision appears to significantly expand the scope of Michigan’s physician-patient privilege.

In Meier, former patients alleged that a physician intentionally misdiagnosed patients as having epilepsy or seizure disorder in order to increase the physician’s reimbursement under public and private insurance plans. During the course of discovery, the plaintiffs subpoenaed the Michigan Department of Community Health (“MDCH”), requesting the names of all Medicaid beneficiaries that were diagnosed with epilepsy or seizure disorder by the doctor. The MDCH refused to disclose the information and sought the protection of the physician patient privilege.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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