Academy of Chiropractic Personal Injury & Primary Spine Care Program

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From the Desk of Dr. Mark Studin
Academy of Chiropractic
Preamble: many of these issues are small, yet each issue is just that… an issue. If you take care of the small issues, then the larger issues often take care of themselves and you can focus on the larger issues… a larger, more profitable practice and more family time.

“Subpeona Duces Tecum”

Do I really need it in my files?
“Don’t fight what you can’t” Mark Studin 2018


Subpoena Duces Tecum

[Latin, Under penalty to bring with you.] The judicial process used to command the production before a court of papers, documents, or other tangible items of evidence.

A subpoena duces tecum is used to compel the production of documents that might be admissible before the court. It cannot be used to require oral testimony and ordinarily cannot be used to compel a witness to reiterate, paraphrase, or affirm thetruth of the 
documents produced.
Although frequently employed to obtain discovery during litigation, a subpoena duces tecum may not be used for a "fishingexpedition" 
to enable a party to gain access to massive amounts of documents as a means of gathering evidence. Thesubpoena should be sufficiently 
definite so that a respondent can identify the documents sought without a protracted orextensive search. Moreover, a person ordinarily is 
required to produce only documents in her possession or under her controland supervision. A subpoena duces tecum may be used to 
compel the production of the papers and books of a business, however.

A subpoena duces tecum is not limited to parties to a lawsuit but may also be used for others who have relevant documents. In the absence of a valid excuse, an individual served with a subpoena duces tecum must produce the items sought, although a subordinate may comply instead. A subpoena duces tecum may be challenged by a motion to quash, modify, orvacate the 
subpoena or by a motion for a protective order. The subpoena might not be permitted if alternative methods forobtaining the information 
sought are available. Determiningwhether a subpoena duces tecum should be enforced is a discretionary matter within the judgment of the court.

When you get this type of subpoena in the mail you are compelled by the courts to deliver documents as prescribed by the subpoena within a certain time frame. You must include every document in your chart, with no exceptions. By law, you cannot “cherry pick” which documents you want to send to the courts (opposing counsel) as you are compelled to send every document, no matter how trivial or unrelated to the case. Failure to comply may instate a civil action against you.
It is for this reason that you must be very careful about what is in your patient’s charts. There have been times patients will give me extraneous information such as information about gym’s they want to join or other types of non-essential information about their care and this type of information can never be placed in a patient’s chart. It is also for this reason that when I’m taking cryptic notes I am going to use to transcribe into my formal EMR or my formal record, I take my cryptic notes and shred them as they serve no purpose other than to jog my memory and once utilized they will forever be destroyed as superfluous and potentially confusing when having to articulate your final opinion regarding that visit encounter.

First, contact the plaintiff’s lawyer to see if they are going to file a motion to “Quash the Subpoena.” If they allow you to send it and you are allowed (based upon your state law) to charge for your records, ensure you get paid for your records PRIOR to sending the records. 

Once you have gathered every record/paper/document in your patient’s chart you must look at the time frame on the subpoena and send it to the legal entity that requested the documentation. In addition, ensure that you also send a copy to the plaintiffs attorney representing your patient to ensure everyone is on the same page. You then also must ask the attorney if any future documentation is created, must you also send that when it is done, with the understanding that every state handles that particular issue separately.

These are the little things that can become big if you include anything other than exactly what is required to be in your patients’ charts. 



Adjunct Associate Professor of Chiropractic, University of Bridgeport, College of Chiropractic
Adjunct Post Graduate Faculty, Cleveland University-Kansas City, College of Chiropractic
Adjunct Professor, Division of Clinical Sciences, Texas Chiropractic College
Educational Presenter, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education Joint Partnership with the State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Academy of Chiropractic
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