COLUMBUS, OHIO – TPM successfully argued to the Supreme Court of Ohio that a patient unequivocally has a right to their own medical records. In a 5-2 decision, the Court held that a medical provider is required to provide a patient their medical records regardless of where such records are stored. The Court further held that the patient is not required to state a reason to obtain their medical records.
The case before the Supreme Court involved the cardiac monitoring of Howard Griffith while at Aultman Hospital in May, 2012. The leads connecting the monitor to Mr. Griffith’s chest were detached during which alarms sounded for approximately 45 minutes until x-ray techs found Mr. Griffith nonresponsive. A code was called but Mr. Griffith eventually died as a result of the 45 minute delay. Mr. Griffith’s cardiac monitoring information was saved, printed, and taken to Aultman’s Risk Management Department. Aultman Hospital then claimed that the cardiac monitoring information was not a medical record because it was not stored in Aultman’s Medical Records Department. The Supreme Court disagreed holding that “the physical location of the data is not relevant to the determination whether that data qualifies as a medical record.”
Representing the patient and his family were Attorneys Lee Plakas and Megan Frantz Oldham. Attorney Plakas recognized the impact of the decision: “The decision has huge ramifications for patients’ Right to Know throughout Ohio and prevents any hospital from concealing or artificially classifying medical records. If records are important enough for a medical provider to secretly maintain those records in their risk management department, they are important enough to be disclosed to a patient.”
Attorney Frantz Oldham additionally contemplated: “The Supreme Court’s decision ensures that patients are entitled to their own medical information without qualification. A hospital such as Aultman Hospital does not get to decide what medical information to disclose or not to disclose. Instead, a patient’s medical information involving their own body, regardless of where the hospital stores such information, belongs to the patient.”