Do You Have to Respond to an Arizona Board Subpoena?
Does a healthcare provider have to respond to a subpoena from an Arizona licensing board? In the Arizona revised statute, the Arizona law, healthcare licensing boards absolutely have the authority to request medical records from almost any custodian of those records in Arizona. Who would be the custodian of a medical record? Well, obviously the actual healthcare provider. So, if you’re a physician, nurse practitioner, or whoever, if you have those records in your possession and a board requests them, they have the legal authority to do that, and you would be required to send those records to the board. Now, why would a board want medical records?
What Happens if Someone Doesn’t Comply to a Subpoena?
Well, let’s just take the Arizona Medical Board, for instance. Let’s say a patient files a complaint against a doctor alleging maybe a deviation from the standard of care. The board would then issue a subpoena to the physician asking for the complete medical records of that patient, to investigate whether the standard was deviated from or not. And that physician would then have to comply with the subpoena. Now, what happens if someone says, I’m not going to comply with the subpoena? Well in my experience, and we’ve represented people before Arizona licensing boards for over a decade, for the most part, if someone doesn’t comply with the subpoena request, the board will simply send maybe two or three separate subpoena requests, and then after that, they’ll just drop it and move on with the investigation without those records.
Now, that’s for people that aren’t associated with that board. What I mean by that is, if the medical board sends a subpoena to a hospital or maybe the HR department of a large healthcare network and they don’t respond to the subpoena request from the board, it’s very unlikely the board is going to take any action to compel the production of those documents. However, if they’re sending a subpoena request to an Allopathic physician, so an MD and that board oversees that MD’s license, and that MD refuses to send them a medical record, well that board can then take action against that physician for refusing to comply with the subpoena request.
So, that’s one situation. And the same would go for the other board. If a psychologist has sent a request from the psychology board and they refuse, it could be a problem. If a nurse practitioner refuses subpoena medical records requests from the nursing board, that could be a problem as well. But if you’re a smaller healthcare institution and a board requests medical records and for whatever reason, you don’t want to send them, it’s very unlikely the board will take any action beyond just submitting several requests before they move on. So, that’s why and when you must respond to a subpoena request from a licensing board in Arizona. There are some very specific things that must be followed for a healthcare provider to have to send the records to almost any requesting party.
Should a Healthcare Provider Respond to a Subpoena?
But every licensing board in Arizona is given broad authority to submit requests for medical records. And so, for the most part, the answer will be yes, you must respond to the subpoena with medical records. The only tricky situation is let’s say you’re a nurse practitioner working for a physician’s office and you’re doing primary care, something like that. And then, you leave that employment and move on to your next job. The board may send a request to you for the records, but when you’re an employee and you’ve moved on from an employer, these are not your medical records. It will say in your employment contract, they are the records of the employer, not the nurse practitioner. So, in that scenario, you absolutely need to submit something to the board stating, I am not the custodian of these records. I was an employee at the time of providing care. This is the place for the medical records, either should or could be found. And that way, you won’t get in trouble for ignoring the subpoena. You want to respond to the board in that situation and the board should understand that scenario.
Who Can be Served a Subpoena by an Arizona Licensing Board?
In Arizona, the Arizona Licensing Board has the absolute authority to analyze and investigate various medical claims reported by patients consistently. The Arizona Licensing Board aims to ensure that all the medical professionals operating in the state pay attention to the codes of ethics governing how the industry works.
Usually, a complaint has to be served to the board before it can commence investigations. Also, the board must determine whether it has the necessary jurisdiction to investigate a claim before it can request the required medical records. Suppose the Arizona Licensing Board determines it has the necessary jurisdiction. In that case, it will subpoena all the medical records needed for investigations. Some of the areas where the Arizona Licensing Board has jurisdiction include:
- Behavioral experts
Work with an Experienced Arizona Defense Attorney
Over the years, medical practitioners have been subjected to extreme scrutiny by the Health Professional Regulatory Board (32-3201). Most of them don’t know how they can respond, especially when subjected to medical records requests through subpoenas.
As a physician working in Arizona, you must work with an experienced Arizona defense attorney. It’s the only way you’ll be able to protect your rights and ensure that medical records are not used to subject you and your career to unfair treatment.
At Chelle Law, we have experienced defense attorneys ready to listen to your concerns.