Physician–Patient Privilege Does Not Cover Anonymous Medical Records, Court Rules 1

In a case of first impression, the South Dakota Supreme Court, in a 3–2 decision, ruled that the state’s physician–patient privilege does not protect third-parties’ medical records from disclosure so long as the parties redact all patient-identifying information.  The majority cited to several extrajurisdictional decisions on the issue and aligned itself with the purported “unanimous view of other courts … that anonymous, nonidentifying medical information is not privileged per se.”  Wipf v. Altstiel, 2016 WL 7411290 (S.D. Dec. 21, 2016).   You may read the decision, which also serves as a helpful research tool, here.

Discovery of Third-Party Patients’ Medical Records?

Dr. Terry Alstiel performed a laparoscopic hernia repair on Steven Wipf.  Wipf had post-operative complications and later filed suit claiming that Alstiel perforated his bowel during the hernia surgery.  Dr. Alstiel’s expert testified that he would need to see “an unacceptably high complication rate in similar procedures with different patients” before he would agree that Alstiel breached the standard of care. More…