South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Physician's History of Drug Abuse Is Subject to Discovery in Malpractice Suit
Description Appeals court affirmed that a physician being sued for malpractice that resulted in serious injury was required to provide information about his background of drug and alcohol abuse. Such information is not protected by the privilege of physician-patient communication.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Evidence; Discovery; Malpractice; Privilege
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Ingram claimed to have suffered from malpractice during surgery that was performed by Dr. Prior. In suing Prior for malpractice, Ingram requested material concerning Prior's history of drug and alcohol abuse. Prior contended that the information is protected against discovery under the physician-patient privilege. The trial court held that the material was relevant background information that Prior had to produce. Prior appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Prior must disclose the names of any drugs to which he was addicted and the names of health care providers who treated him for drug or alcohol abuse; that information is not privileged. The details of discussions with health care providers is not being requested, only medical history of Dr. Prior that may be relevant to the claim of negligence in surgery.

Citation Ingram v. Adena Health System, 777 N.E.2d 901 (Ct. App., Ohio, 2002)

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