James v. Nocona Gen. Hosp., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31130 (N.D. Texas 2007)

Plaintiffs filed Interrogatories and Requests to Produce seeking statistical information related to the number and causes of death that occurred among the universe of the Defendant physicians’ patients before and during the December 2000 to February 2001 alleged rampage by Nurse Jackson at Nocona General Hospital. Defendants filed identical objections as to privilege and relevance.

The Court rejected objections based on HIPAA, 45 CFR 164.512. A qualified protective order was previously entered. Accordingly, the mandatory conditions for disclosure of the “protected health information” pursuant to the Plaintiffs’ discovery requests have been met.

Objections based on the Texas doctor-patient privilege, Texas Evidence Rule 510, were overruled based on an exception in Rule 509(e)(4): the exception “as to a communication or record relevant to an issue of the physical, mental or emotional condition of a patient in any proceeding in which any party relies upon the condition as a part of the party’s claim or defense.” Plaintiffs sought information to prove that the Defendant physicians’ historical experience of suspicious or non-suspicious deaths among its patients will implicate either negligence or conscious indifference to the multiple suspicious deaths occurring during the rampage.

Objections based on Texas Constitutional law were overruled.

The court ordered Defendants to either answer the Interrogatories or to produce the records prior to the depositions of the defendant doctors and to supplement the answers as additional information was found.

Decided April 27, 2007

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