The Second Department, modifying Supreme Court, determined the medical records of a non-party witness were discoverable only to the extent that they included non-privileged information demonstrating defendant Huntington Medical Group (HMG) was on notice that defendant doctor (Wishner) had acted improperly with patients. Plaintiff sued HMG alleging negligent hiring, supervision and retention of Wishner. Plaintiff had deposed a non-party witness who apparently had alleged improper conduct by Wishner. Defendants sought to discover the non-party witness’s medical records. The Second Department noted that the defendants (1) had not shown the medical records were relevant to the improper conduct allegations and (2) the non-party witness had not waived the physician-patient privilege. The matter was remitted for an in camera review of the records by Supreme Court:
The physician-patient privilege seeks to protect confidential communications relating to the nature of the treatment rendered and the diagnosis made … . The physician-patient privilege applies to information communicated by the patient while the physician attends the patient in a professional capacity, as well as information obtained from observation of the patient’s appearance and symptoms … . “The privilege applies at examinations before trial, and it covers both oral testimony and documents, such as hospital records, which presumably are drawn up in large part based on communications imparted by the patient to the treating physician” … .
Here, the nonparty witness expressly declined to waive the physician-patient privilege as to her medical records, and her deposition testimony with respect to the facts of Wishner’s alleged improper conduct during the subject physical examination and the facts and incidents of her medical history does not constitute privileged information … . Thus, the nonparty witness did not waive the physician-patient privilege as to her medical records … . …
… [P]rivileged medical records may contain nonprivileged information that could be discoverable if relevant … . Thus, we remit this matter to the Supreme Court, … for an in camera inspection of the nonparty witness’ medical records stored by HMG for a determination of whether such records, or any parts thereof, contain any nonprivileged information relevant to the issue of whether HMG was on notice of Wishner’s alleged improper conduct toward patients during his examination of them and, if so, for the entry of an order directing that such nonprivileged information, if any, shall be produced to the defendants. Mullen v Steven G. Wishner, 2019 NY Slip Op 04180, Second Dept 5-29-19