Missouri Supreme Court discusses physician/patient privilege

medical records.jpgThe Missouri Supreme Court addressed the disclosure of medical records of a defendant in a Missouri wrongful death case stemming out of an automobile accident. In State ex rel. Stinson v. The Honorable Ted House, No. SC90364, the Defendant sought a writ of prohibition preventing the trial court from compelling him to execute an authorization releasing his medical records.

In this case, the Defendant allegedly was driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, and the plaintiff alleged that he had a history of drug and/or alcohol use and a history of medical treatment for the same. The decedent’s daughter, the plaintiff, sought his medical records pertaining to any substance abuse treatment he may have had.

Plaintiff’s argument was the these records were relevant to her case. Defendant argued that the records may be relevant, but they were protected by the physician/patient privilege, RSMo 491.060, and he had not waived it.

The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with Defendant. The Court held that the physician/patient privilege is in place to protect private information, even if it may be relevant. The Court held that there was no evident Defendant had waived the privilege, because he had never placed his medical condition at issue. Denying liability and defending himself in the lawsuit did not rise to the level of placing his medical condition at issue.