Posted by: Pixi | 2009-08-07


Hi Doc.
May a psychiatrist destroy records of a patient if the patients ask him to do so if the records can be used as evidence against the patient in a civil case?


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Our expert says:
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That's a legal question, but I reall doubt it. The doctor is required to keep medical records for years after he has stopped treating the patient, and not to destroy them. He is also ex[ected to keep them confidential unless and until he is ordered by a Court of law, to produce them. I suspect this might be less likely in a civil than a criminal matter, as the court would have to weight the patient's right to confidentiality with whatever benefit might acrue to the other party in the case,
Especially if the psychiatrist knew about the civil case, it would look especiall bad for him to destroy records, and a court might also assume that the records proved guilt or something on the part of the person whose records were destroyed ( otherwise what reason would there have been for destroying them )
There would be no way to go "all innocently" to the shrink, because it is so enormously rare for anyone to ask us to destroy records, that he could never do so without asking in detail why you asked. He'd have a duty to ask why, even more than a right to ask.
Would the other side in the civil case know that there had been psych treatment and that the records might be useful to their case ? If they didn\t know, they wouldn't ask the court to get them. A court would be much less likely to allow a breach of confidentiality on a "fishing expedition" than if there were existing evidence that critically important evidence would be contained in the records.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Really | 2009-08-07

I am not Doc, but I think, the psyc has the right to aks why. And any way, isn' t it that the doc has to keep records of all their patients? If all docs went about destroying patient records how would they rememeber the history and manage the progress of the patient?

It' s seems unethical for the psyc to do that!

Reply to Really
Posted by: Mojo | 2009-08-07

I dont know, i think he can destroy the records on patient request but it depends whats in the records and how many copies there are. Presumably if the patient was hosptialized there would be numerous copies on file in the hosptial.

Reply to Mojo
Posted by: Pixi | 2009-08-07

Let'  s assume the psyc does not know of the pending case and the patient goes all "  innocently"  to the psyc and asks him nicely to destroy the records. May he do so?

Reply to Pixi
Posted by: mojo | 2009-08-07

If the psychiatrist knows about the " civil case"  then id imagine no.

Reply to mojo

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