02 Jun Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Rulings
On May 29, 2014, a Letter Opinion issued in the patient fall case of Eason v. Sentara CarePlex Hospital, Sentara Hospitals, et al., No. CL12-470 in Circuit Court for the City of Hampton, Virginia. It covered policies, procedures, and audit trails, including metadata.
First, the Eason medical malpractice decision ruled Sentara’s Policies and Procedures Manual is discoverable. The Judge noted across 30 years of Virginia jurisprudence “an inexorable march to more disclosure”. Id. at 1-2.
Second, the Eason wrongful death opinion ruled Sentara’s Audit Trail, including Metadata, is discoverable. The Judge explained cogently:
There is no dispute, and it is well settled, that medicine has long past evolved from that time when ‘a patient’s chart’ was a clipboard hung on the foot of bed. The ability to record and store vast quantities of information about a patient grows rapidly. The General Assembly is challenged each year with revision of Virginia Code §8.01-413 in updating the law as record keeping advances even faster. That difficulty does not diminish the intent of the law to instruct that a patient is entitled to review his or her entire ‘medical record’.
Id. at 2 (emphasis added).
On June 5, 2014, the Virginia Supreme Court holds oral argument in the medical malpractice wrongful death appeal of Temple v. Mary Washington Hosp., Inc., Record No. 131754. A published opinion is expected in its September Term.