Washington State Supreme Court Limits Attorney-Client Communications with Employed Healthcare Practitioners

Back to Legal Insights
Back to Legal Insights

On January 23, 2014, the Washington State Supreme Court (“Court”) decided a case with significant implications for Washington health care providers that employ physicians (or other health care practitioners) and the attorneys who represent those organizations. The conflict that can arise in medical malpractice cases between a defendant’s interest in preparing an effective defense by interviewing its employees, as protected by the attorney-client privilege, and a patient-plaintiff’s interest in maintaining confidentiality of unrelated sensitive health information, as protected by the physician-patient privilege, came to a head in Youngs v. Peacehealth. Attempting to balance these competing interests, the Court adopted a new rule limiting health care providers’ attorneys’ ex parte interviews with employed physicians, allowing such contact only so far as they directly relate to the events surrounding a patient-plaintiff’s injury. While several other states prohibit defense attorneys’ ex parte communications with non-party, employed treating physicians, Washington is the first to consider the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Upjohn Co. v. United States. Attorneys in other states should take note. Youngs is likely to give rise to new challenges regarding the balance of these interests under similar state laws.

Read the full article at ABA Health eSource.

Key Contributors

Sarah L. Bimber
See all contributors See less contributors
Saved Pages

Use the arrows to arrange content.  Download pages as a .pdf file or share links via email..

{{ item.Title }} {{ item.AttorneyPosition }}, {{ item.AttorneyLocation }} , C. {{ item.AttorneyCell }} , P. {{ item.AttorneyPhone }} , F. {{ item.AttorneyFax }} {{ item.TypeText }} Remove
You have no pages saved
            {{ state | json }}