Medical Records: Relevance


Malcomson v. Liberty Northwest, 2014 MT 242 The Court held that the State failed to appreciate that the constitutional right of informational privacy encompasses a fundamental right to control circulation of personal information.  A worker’s consent to release relevant medical information does not mean that the worker loses all privacy interests in how that information is circulated or disseminated.  The right to control circulation of private information would be lost if the worker does not know what healthcare information is being circulated or to whom.

Malcomson v. Liberty Northwest, 2014 MT 242 The Court agreed with the claimant that under § 39-71-604(3), MCA, the insurer could have unfettered access to her healthcare providers and she would never know whether the insurer had obtained irrelevant medical information or had cast her in a negative light to her prejudice, and she would be unable to protect her privacy interest in medical information that is irrelevant to her claim.


Malcomson v. Liberty Northwest [08/16/13] 2013 MTWCC 21 The statutory definition of what constitutes relevant healthcare information is very broad, and within the breadth of that definition, what is or is not relevant can be highly subjective.  Allowing unfettered access to a claimant’s healthcare providers with no check to ensure that the information communicated is relevant means that under § 39-71-604(3), MCA, a claimant is unable to object to the sharing of arguably irrelevant information and may never learn what information has been shared.

Dewey v. Montana Contractor Compensation Fund [05/16/09] 2009 MTWCC 17 Under § 39-71-604(2), MCA, a signed claim for workers’ compensation or occupational disease benefits authorizes disclosure of information relevant to the claimant’s condition, which may include past history of the complaints or of the treatment of a condition that is similar to that presented in the claim, conditions for which benefits are subsequently claimed, other conditions related to the same body part, or conditions that may affect recovery. In a 2007 claim for benefits relating to carpal tunnel syndrome, the insurer requested and received medical records which included a bout of pneumonia in 1970 and a sore throat in 1974, and forwarded those records to an independent medical examiner for his review. The examiner further found “appropriate” and “important” to include in his report things he learned from these records such as: Petitioner was “born illegitimately”; Petitioner felt suicidal after the death of his grandfather several years before the onset of his alleged occupational disease; and that Petitioner’s father was a drug user. The Court found that Respondent and the examiner misused Petitioner’s medical records in an attempt to malign Petitioner’s character and the Court specifically excluded this information in considering Petitioner’s credibility.