In all personal injury cases, both the plaintiff and the defendant must exchange certain information and documents with each other that they plan to use at trial or that may be helpful for the other side in proving or defending against the case. This is called pre-trial discovery. Often, there is significant litigation surrounding the pre-trial discovery process because parties may not want to disclose everything in their possession for fear of helping their opponents.
In cases naming a nursing home, hospital, or medical professional as a defendant, the argument that a defendant often uses to withhold what may otherwise be mandatory discovery is that the request documents are “privileged” and need not be disclosed. For a document to be considered privileged, there must be some underlying statute or rule stating that is the case. A common example of privileged information is the communication between an attorney and his clients.
Illinois Nursing Home Is Ordered to Release Documents It Claimed Were Privileged
Earlier this month, an appellate court in Illinois issued an opinion that required a nursing home to release certain requested documents to a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Originally, the nursing home refused to release the documents, claiming that they were privileged under the state’s Medical Studies Act. The Medical Studies Act protects “records, reports, statements, notes or other data” that is related to the internal quality control measures of a nursing home. The idea behind the privilege is that the government does not want to discourage nursing homes from seeking to improve care by internally acknowledging that they could have done things differently in the past and potentially avoided an accident.
The nursing home argued that, if not for the Medical Studies Act, the statements and documents requested by the plaintiff would never have been created, so they should be protected. However, a three-judge panel on the appellate court disagreed, ordering the nursing home to release the document. The panel explained that the nursing home’s position was “clearly without merit.” The court explained that, if it had adopted the nursing home’s interpretation, the only discoverable information would be a patient’s own medical records, which the court found to be unreasonable.
The appellate panel did, however, reverse a lower court’s determination that the nursing home should be held in contempt for failing to disclose the requested documents initially. The panel explained that, although the nursing home was unsuccessful in its appeal, it was not acting in bad faith when it made the initial refusal. However, the nursing home will be required to disclose the documents at this point.
Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice at a Maryland Nursing Home?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured due to the negligence of a Maryland nursing home, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as noted above, nursing homes are not always willing to play by the rules, and an attorney’s assistance may be vital to your case. To speak with a dedicated Maryland nursing home attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our time unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Recently Filed Case Claims Nurses Tied Down Resident and Administered Narcotic Medication Against Her Will, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published February 7, 2017.
Nursing Home Abuse Caught in the Act; Charges Unlikely, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published January 27, 2017.