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People v. Marrero (Supreme Court, New York County, April 13, 2021): Defendant, indicted for attempted robbery, challenged the propriety of an ex-parte subpoena for his hospital records in the absence of a Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule authorization. Defendant allegedly attempted to rob a person on the subway at knife point, sustaining cuts to his hands. After arrest, he was brought to the hospital for treatment. During grand jury proceedings, the prosecution submitted a subpoena for defendant’s hospital records, which the judge granted ex parte (to one party). Defendant argued that the release of his medical records was a violation of his HIPAA privacy rights and submitted a motion asking the state to relinquish the records to the court, for the court to keep the records under seal, and for the district attorney who requested the records to be removed from the case. The court noted “some troubling aspects to the process” of granting an ex-parte subpoena for medical records and questioned “the necessity for overriding the defendant’s HIPAA protections.” However, it ultimately held that the subpoena was a valid court order, and as such, eliminated the requirement for authorization. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – July 16, 2021.

View all cases under “Public Health Information Management, Privacy & Security.”