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Counseling center not helpful

Started by oklahoma, Jan 06, 2006, 04:10:32 PM

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I am in Oregon.  A few years ago, I was ordered by the court to participate in joint counseling with my daughters.  I completed the counseling at the center previously chosen by BM, as ordered.  A few of the sessions were just myself and the counselor, but apparently they are included in my daughters' files.  Last fall, I wrote to the center requesting those records.  State law and my parenting plan allow for it, and in the past the same counseling center has sent records to me with no problems.

We have been going back and forth ever since September.  I have made numerous phone calls and heard a variety of stories/excuses.  Yesterday, I drove to the city where the counseling center is (2 hours away.)  The director of the counseling center flat out refused to give me the records without a subpeona.  They actually told me that my behavior demonstrated why the girls were in counseling! (I was demanding, but not overtly angry or abusive in any way.)

The subpeona will definitely happen, since BM will not even communicate with me outside of court (or so her attorney writes.)  But I am livid that the center would treat me this way and so blatantly violate my rights to the records.

What legal recourse can I take against the counseling center for keeping my records away from me?

What difference is there in not receiving my own records and not receiving the records of my daughters?

Note: I will admit that this question in part is just pure vindictiveness.  I do not know that I would pursue anything beyond what is needed to get my parenting time back.  I hold a lot of blame for this counseling center for this whole mess--the original counselor testified in court 3 years ago that my daughters were not lying about me, but her own records indicated that my oldest admitted to lying.  (We had not the opportunity to see the records before court--yeah, I had a really inexperienced attorney at the time.)


>What legal recourse can I take against the counseling center
>for keeping my records away from me?

Patient records are the property of the healthcare provider. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is true. You pay for services and the provider renders them, and keeps records about the services rendered. Under the Federal Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), providers are prohibited from disclosing your records to others, except under certain circumstances, howver, the law doesn't force the healthcare provider to produce them to you on demand.

Most healthcare providers will provide a copy of healthcare records on request, but you don't have a right to them absent a subpoena.

As the child's parent, you have a right to authorize the release of healthcare information concerning the child, however, the counselor is legally obligated to keep the information confidential. So, while some therapist's will weigh the advisability of consulting with the parent to facilitate the child's care, this doesn't grant the parent an unrestricted right to the child's healthcare records.

So, unless your court order specifically grants you access to any healthcare records concerning the child's health, then the counselor can lawfully withhold the information, unless you subpoena it, or obtain a court order instructing its release.

You can try to stipulate with the other parent to an order, or you can simply serve a subpoena for production of documents. There are some special procedures in Oregon related to the production of healthcare records, but assuming you comply then there's no reason why you can't get the records as long as they are relevant to the discovery of admissible evidence in your case.

As for some sort of private right of action for damages against the counselor, you don't have one, because you haven't been damaged. You chose to drive to the location and get annoyed rather than to simply serve the subpoena, so the counselor is not responsible.

So, just take a deep breath and then arrange to subpoena the records.