Prenatal Records & Medical Negligence

E.J. v. Okolocha (Ind. Ct. App. Aug. 13, 2012)

Parents interested in adopting a child submitted an authorization to a doctor for the child’s mother’s prenatal records. The doctor did not provide the records. The parents adopted the child who, unbeknownst to them, had neurological deficits. The doctor’s records included a sonogram that showed brain abnormalities. The Court of Appeals held that the defendant doctor did not owe a duty to provide the adoptive parents the prenatal records because the authorization did not comply with HIPAA.

This case includes an interesting and informative discussion of the interplay between HIPAA and Indiana law regarding the release of medical records. As the Court explains, the laws do not conflict, but instead, provide layers of protection for medical records. Therefore, requests for medical records must comply with both HIPAA and state law.

An interesting issue that the Court did not address is whether the doctor would have owed a duty if the authorizations complied with HIPAA and Indiana law. The adopting parents were not the doctor’s patients. Indiana courts have addressed the issue of whether a healthcare provider owes a duty to non-patients in a variety of contexts and have reached various results. SeeCram v. Howell, 680 N.E.2d 1096 (Ind. 1997) (finding duty); Webb v. Jarvis, 575 N.E.2d 992 (Ind. 1991) (finding no duty); Manley v. Sherer, 960 N.E.2d 815 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011) (finding duty), trans. Granted see also Gates v. Riley ex rel. Riley, 723 N.E.2d 946 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000) (finding no proximate cause in a claim brought against the physician by non-patient).

A final interesting aspect of the decision is the Court’s slightly veiled comment regarding the attorneys who assisted the parents with the adoption. The Court stated:

  • We are mindful of the great emotional and monetary harm suffered by the Jeffreys in this case. However, it cannot be ignored that the Jeffreys and their attorneys were in the best position to avoid the harm suffered.

(Slip Op. p. 14.) This comment could suggest either that the Jeffreys should have drafted a HIPAA-compliant authorization or should have not proceeded with the adoption until they had the requested information and easily lead to future litigation regarding this unfortunate case.

Barrett McNagny LLP

Legal Disclaimer

The information contained in the Barrett McNagny LLP website is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice on any subject matter. Furthermore, the information contained on our website may not reflect the most current legal developments. You should not act upon this information without consulting legal counsel.

Your transmission and receipt of information on the Barrett McNagny LLP website, or sending an e-mail to one of our attorneys or staff, will not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Barrett McNagny LLP. If you need legal advice and want to establish an attorney-client relationship with Barrett McNagny LLP, please contact one of our attorneys by telephone, email, or other means of communication, and allow the attorney to confirm that the firm does not represent other persons or entities involved in the matter and that the firm is willing to accept representation. Until such confirmation is provided by one of our attorneys, you should not transmit information to us that you consider confidential. If you do provide information to us, and no attorney-client relationship is established, the information will not be considered confidential or privileged, and our receipt of such information will not preclude us from representing another client in a matter adverse to you.

Any links to other websites are not intended to be referrals or endorsements of those sites.

Privacy Policy

Terms of Use

ADA Compliance

Transparency Cover Rule: Machine-Readable Files

Contact Us
My name is
and I am a(n)
seeking legal counsel in the area of 
me at
as soon as you can.

Thank you for contacting us!

A representative will be in touch with you shortly.

An attorney-client relationship will NOT be formed merely by sending an email to Barrett McNagny, LLP or to any of its attorneys. Please do not send any information specific to your legal needs until you obtain approval from a Barrett McNagny, LLP attorney, as the content of such email will not be considered confidential or privileged. By sending us an email, you confirm your understanding of this notification. If you agree, you may use the e-mail links on this page to contact an attorney.