Medical Records: Punitive Damages Appropriate when Physician Intentionally Destroys Records to Evade Malpractice Liability

March 7, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​A New York appellate court ruled on January 17, 2018, that punitive damages may be assessed against a medical professional who alters or destroys medical records in an attempt to avoid medical malpractice liability. Central questions for the jury were when did the physician destroy her handwritten notes and why?

The plaintiffs brought a wrongful death and medical negligence suit on behalf of their six-year-old daughter against the defendants, a pediatrician and an endocrinologist. The child's pediatrician noticed that she had high blood sugar and provided a referral to a pediatric endocrinologist. The endocrinologist saw the child three times between October and December 2009. At the December visit, the endocrinologist proposed scheduling the next appointment for four weeks later, but instead the visit...

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