Who Can Be Served a Subpoena by an Arizona Licensing Board?
Process of Arizona Medical Board Investigation
Who can be served a subpoena by an Arizona licensing board? So, when a complaint is filed with a board, the board does have broad subpoena power in requesting several documents. And a normal board investigation goes like this: the complaint is filed, the board then determines if they have jurisdiction, and then if they do and the complaint would be a violation of Arizona law, then they’ll move forward with sending out subpoenas to gather some information about the complaint. And let’s just say it’s a complaint with the Arizona Medical Board by a patient of the physician. What would happen is the board would then send a subpoena to the physician stating, the complaint has been filed, we need the entire medical record of this patient. And then the physician would have to comply with the subpoena and send the record to the board.
Once the board receives the medical record, that’s when the investigation would continue. Perhaps they bring in an outside medical consultant to review the records. Now, there are other situations in other documents that a board can issue subpoenas for. For instance, let’s say you’re with the nursing board and a complaint has been filed by a hospital that fired a nurse for some violation, maybe like a documentation issue. The board will send the healthcare institution, so a hospital, the HR department of a healthcare network, a subpoena asking for the employment file of the nurse involved. So, their application, any certifications, any disciplinary incidents, or anything like that will be contained in the HR file.
And then that file will be sent to the board requesting it. And then the board can also issue a subpoena for medical records to the hospital or healthcare provider because obviously, let’s just say you’re a registered nurse, they’re not your files, you’re not the healthcare provider. So, it’s the hospital file that then must be sent back to the board. Now, what happens if someone refuses to send a record to a board? Well, the board, as I said before, does have broad power to issue subpoenas for any supporting documentation in an investigation. However, in my experience, if someone refuses to send a medical record, for the most part, the board will just continue to send subpoenas asking for the information. And then, after usually the second or third try they still don’t have any information, they’ll just move on and go forward in the investigation without any of the documentation.
Rule of Serving a Subpoena
Now, one caveat is if you are licensed by that board and you’re sent a subpoena for records that you’re the custodian of, and you refuse to send them, well, that could potentially open you up to discipline from that board. Let’s say you’re a nurse practitioner, you have medical records for a complaint that’s been filed at the board, and maybe it has nothing to do with you. Maybe it’s a subsequent complaint to another provider, but they need the records from the care provider by that nurse practitioner. If the nurse practitioner says to the nursing board, I’m not sending you anything, well, the board may potentially pursue action against the nurse practitioner for refusing to comply with the subpoena.
For the most part, the boards won’t go further than just sending multiple requests. But I guess theoretically they could try to get a court or a judge to attempt to enforce the subpoena, maybe hold someone in contempt for not filing it. But for the most part, that’s just not something that they normally do. I’ve also found that an Arizona board sending subpoenas out of state is usually or maybe infrequently responded to. And the Arizona licensing board simply doesn’t have almost any mechanism to force someone outside of the state to comply with one of their subpoenas. And once again, they’re very unlikely to go to the length of attempting to compel the production of those documents.
So, if you are outside of the state and the Arizona licensing board sends you a subpoena and you choose not to reply to it, very likely nothing will happen if you do not reply to it. Now listen, every situation is different depending upon the severity of the complaint, depending upon the breadth of the medical records, and depending upon how involved in the care of the patient the person that was sent to subpoena was. Every situation is a little bit different. However, to be clear, under current Arizona law, a licensing board has the absolute authority to request the medical records of patients.
Health Professional Regulatory Board and Medical Records Subpoena
A medical records subpoena is a formal request by the court through a judge, an attorney, or any other legal authority that demands medical records from a physician. The ultimate objective of requesting such details is to use them for investigative purposes in a court proceeding. These records can prove or disapprove an essential aspect in the court. That’s why a judge might consider requesting medical records in civil actions such as:
- Workers’ compensation
- Personal injury cases
Also, a professional medical board might demand medical records to investigate a medical professional for negligence or any other medical malpractice. This has been a common trend and has unearthed multiple issues that medical professionals have found wanting. Some of the main reasons why a professional health body might request medical records for investigation include the following:
- Medical negligence
- Patient misdiagnosis
- Wrong medical prescription
- Medical malpractice
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
Do You Have to Respond to a Subpoena from an Arizona Licensing Board?
Generally, anyone registered and licensed by the Arizona Licensing Board falls under this board’s authority and is obliged to respond to subpoenas requested by the board. It falls under the operational code of ethics to respond to the licensing body. Those who do not respond can easily have their licenses canceled, and they could even face some extreme legal repercussions, such as court cases, mainly when found guilty of medical malpractice.
However, those outside the state or not licensed by the board are not obligated to respond to medical records subpoenas by the Arizona Licensing Board. Usually, the board may request medical records to assist its investigations. However, you can choose whether to respond or not. Essentially, it’s always advisable to work with an experienced attorney who can offer insight on whether to respond to such medical records subpoenas or not.
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.