Indiana Court Rules Plaintiff Cannot Bring Separate Action for Loss of Medical Records

binders.jpgLast month, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs suing for medical malpractice are not eligible to bring a separate civil action for the loss of medical records. Claims of loss of medical records can be combined with a negligence lawsuit.

The decision comes in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a woman against the Howard Regional Health System in Kokomo. The woman had an emergency cesarean delivery in 1999, and her child suffered numerous neurological problems after the birth. She sued the hospital, but filed a separate lawsuit against the hospital for the loss of certain medical records relating to her son’s care, which, she claimed, prevented her from suing her obstetrician.

During discovery, files of the boy’s care between 2003 and 2005 were handed over, but the record was found to be incomplete. Missing records including those related to labor protocols and fetal monitoring strips. The woman filed another lawsuit, and alleged that the files had been removed from the records deliberately.

However, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that such claims can be considered under the state’s Medical Malpractice Act. Under the Medical Malpractice Act, when a plaintiff submits a claim for medical malpractice, the claim must first go through a process that includes a determination the merits of the case by an expert. A medical malpractice lawsuit must first be determined to have met eligibility criteria by submitting it to a medical review panel. Only when the case is found to have merit, can it proceed.

This Supreme Court decision means that doctors and physicians in Indiana are now protected from additional liability for the loss of medical records.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy represent victims of medical malpractice and medical negligence across Indiana.