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Ohio Appellate Court Rejects Medical Records Limitation

Posted on December 18th, 2017

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Our blog explains electronic discovery and case lawIn Griffith v. Aultman Hosp., 2017-Ohio-8293, the Fifth Appellate Court of Appeals in Ohio addressed whether a complete medical record is limited to the records stored in a hospital’s medical records department.

Howard E. Griffith (“Decedent”) underwent surgery at Aultman Hospital (“Aultman”) on May 2, 2012. Two days later, after being transferred from intensive care to a step-down unit, Decedent developed intermittent atrial fibrillation. Around 4 a.m. on May 6, 2012, a nurse assessed Decedent and found he was doing well. Approximately 45 minutes later, an x-ray technician found Decedent in his bed, the cardiac monitor no longer attached to his body, his central line lying on the floor, and his chest tube disconnected. Decedent was unresponsive. Medical personnel resuscitated him and moved him to the ICU. Decedent had severe brain damage and made no neurological improvement, so his family decided to remove him from life support on May 7, 2012. Howard died on May 8, 2012.

His daughter, Gene’a Griffith (“Griffith”) requested a copy of Decedent’s complete medical record on July 24, 2012. Aultman provided partial documents in response to this request. After Griffith sent a second written request on October 17, 2012, Aultman produced partial records again. On December 12, 2012, Griffith’s representative made an in-person request and was permitted to review what was represented to her as Decedent’s complete medical record. The lower court later granted summary judgment in the hospital’s favor.

Griffith contends summary judgment was inappropriate because genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether Aultman has produced Decedent’s entire medical record. This Court agrees. Aultman maintained that discoverable records constituted those kept in a patient’s medical records department, a contention the Ohio Supreme Court rejected.

Despite Aultman’s counsel repeated assertions that all discoverable medical records had been produced and provided, the court found no evidentiary material from an Aultman representative directly stating that fact.  Accordingly, the appellate court rejected the lower court’s grant of summary judgment and remanded the case.

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