TITLE 9
Courts and Civil Procedure–Procedure Generally

CHAPTER 9-19
Evidence

SECTION 9-19-39


§ 9-19-39 Use of photostatic copies.

(a) Use of photostatic copies of medical records – Originals held available. Medical charts or records of any health care facility licensed under the laws of this state that are susceptible to photostatic reproduction may be proved as to foundation, identity, and authenticity without any preliminary testimony by use of legible and durable copies, certified in the manner provided herein by the employee of the health care facility charged with the responsibility of being custodian of the originals thereof. The copies may be used in any trial, hearing, deposition, or any other judicial or administrative action or proceeding, whether civil or criminal, in lieu of the original charts or records which, however, the health care facility shall hold available during the pendency of the action of proceeding for inspection and comparison by the court, tribunal, or hearing officer and by the parties and their attorneys of record.

(b) Subpoena of records – Certification of copies – Personal delivery. (1) When a subpoena duces tecum is served upon any employee of any health care facility licensed under the laws of this state, requiring the production of any such medical charts or records at any action or proceeding consistent with the requirements of § 5-37.3-6, it shall be deemed a sufficient response to the subpoena if the employee of the health care facility charged with the responsibility of being custodian of the original thereof promptly notifies the attorney for the party causing service of the subpoena of the health care facility's election to proceed under the provisions of this section and of the estimated actual and reasonable expenses of reproducing the charts or records. Upon the notification, the attorney causing the service of the subpoena shall notify all other attorneys of record or other parties if they are not represented by attorneys of the health care facility's election. Following the election, the employee of the health care facility charged with the responsibility of being custodian of the original charts or records specified in the subpoena shall hold the originals available at the health care facility, and upon payment of their reasonable reproduction expense not to exceed the sum of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) by the party causing service of the subpoena, or by any other party, shall promptly deliver, by certified mail or with thirty (30) minutes advance notice by personal delivery, legible and durable copies, certified by the health care facility employee, of all medical charts or records specified in the subpoena to the person specified in the subpoena.

(2) The certification shall be signed before a notary public by the employee of the health care facility charged with the responsibility of being custodian of the records and shall include the full name of the patient, the patient's medical record number, the number of pages in the medical record, and a legend substantially to the following effect:

"The copies of records for which this certification is made are true and complete reproductions of the original or microfilmed medical records which are housed in (name of health care facility). The original records were made in the regular course of business, and it was the regular course of (name of health care facility) to make such records at or near the time of the matter recorded. This certification is given pursuant to Rhode Island general laws § 9-19-39 by the custodian of the records in lieu of his or her personal appearance. Such copies shall be separately enclosed and sealed in an inner envelope or wrapper bearing the legend "Copies of Medical Records.' "

(3) When the copies of records are personally delivered a receipt shall be presented to the person receiving the records for his or her signature and shall be immediately signed and returned to the person delivering the records. The receipt shall contain the name of the health care facility, the full name of the patient, the date the copies of records were received, and the signature of the person receiving the records. When the copies of the records are sent via certified mail, the receipt used by the postal authorities shall be sufficient to prove delivery and receipt of the copies of records.

(4) If the health care facility has none of the charts or records specified in the subpoena, or only a part thereof, the employee of the health care facility charged with the responsibility of being custodian of original hospital charts or records shall so state in a notarized affidavit and, following notice and payment of expenses, shall hold available the original charts or records which are in the health care facility's custody and specified in the subpoena and shall deliver the certified copies together with the affidavit.

(5) Any patient whose medical records or charts are copied and delivered pursuant to subdivisions (b)(1) through (b)(4), any person acting on the patient's behalf, and the health care facility having custody of the records, shall have standing to apply to the court or other body before which the action or proceeding is pending for a protective order denying, restricting, or otherwise limiting access to and use of the copies or original charts and records.

(c) Opening of sealed envelopes. The copy of the records shall remain sealed and shall be opened only at the time of trial, deposition, or other hearing, upon the direction of the judge, court, officer, attorney, body, or tribunal conducting the proceeding, in the presence of all parties who have appeared in person or by counsel at the trial, deposition, or hearing. Before directing that the inner-envelope or wrapper be opened, the judge, court, officer, attorney, body, or tribunal shall first ascertain that either:

(1) The records have been subpoenaed in accordance with § 5-37.3-6; or

(2) The patient involved or someone authorized in his or her behalf to do so for him or her has consented thereto in accordance with § 5-37.3-4.

(d) Return of medical records to court clerk. When the copies of records are delivered to a party or his or her attorney of record for use in a deposition, they shall, after termination of the deposition, be delivered personally or by certified mail to the clerk of the court or other body before which the action or proceeding is pending, and it shall be the responsibility of the party or attorney to transmit the receipt obtained to the employee of the health care facility charged with responsibility of being custodian of the original records. When the records are received by the clerk of the court or other body from a health care facility or from a party or his or her attorney of record they shall be retained in the clerk's custody, consistent with the requirements of § 5-37.3-4(c), at all times except when actually used in the action or proceeding. Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the attorneys of record in the case from retaining copies of the records obtained at the deposition. Upon issuance of a final order terminating a case, the copies of the records will be promptly filed in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the medical information contained therein consistent with the requirements of § 5-37.3-4(c) by the clerk of the court with all other documents pertaining to the case until such a time as the normal retention period for court records expires. The copies of records shall then be permanently disposed of by the clerk in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the medical information contained therein. Should the case be appealed, the copies of records shall be forwarded to the appellate court with other documents pertaining to the case and retained and disposed of in the manner previously described.

(e) Obtaining personal attendance of custodian. The personal attendance of the employee of the health care facility charged with the responsibility of being the custodian of the original charts or records specified in the subpoena shall be required if the subpoena duces tecum contains a clause which reads:

"The procedure authorized pursuant to § 9-19-39 will not be deemed sufficient compliance with this subpoena."

(f) Obtaining personal attendance of custodian and production of original record. The personal attendance of the employee of the health care facility charged with the responsibility of being the custodian of the original charts or records specified in the subpoena and the production of the original record shall be required if the subpoena duces tecum contains a clause which reads:

"Original records are required, and the procedure authorized pursuant to § 9-19-39 will not be deemed sufficient compliance with this subpoena."

History of Section.
(P.L. 1985, ch. 102, § 1.)