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Mon March 9, 2009
Court: Psych records shielded from subpoenas
By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio News
Lansing, MI – The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled the state attorney general cannot subpoena the records of a psychologist unless patients give their okay.
Psychologist Gerard Williams was accused of over-billing. The attorney general, acting on behalf of the state Department of Community Health, filed subpoenas seeking records related to 10 of Williams' patients.
Williams refused to turn over the files, saying his office contacted the patients, and none of them agreed to release their records.
The attorney general argued Michigan's public health code allows the state to seize the records with or without the patients' consent.
The court of appeals disagreed, and ruled that psychologists' records are so sensitive they are specifically shielded from a subpoena.
There's no word from the attorney general on how this ruling might affect future investigations of mental health professionals, or whether the decision will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.