One of the common questions I get in DUI cases with an accident is: “Can the State use my medical records against me at trial?”
The short answer is “yes”, under Georgia law, medical records may be introduced into evidence at trial pursuant to a valid subpoena from the State.
An example comes from the case of Samuels v. State, 325 Ga. App. 819, decided in April, 2016.
Samuels had been involved in an accident, was taken to the hospital, and subsequently prosecuted for a DUI. At trial, hospital records were admitted which stated that Samuels was “intoxicated” when she arrived at the emergency room. The records also indicated she had a history of alcohol abuse.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the medical records were properly admitted at trial, because the records were made to facilitate Samuels’ treatment, and were not made in anticipation of prosecution. The Georgia Supreme Court has specifically held that medical records created for treatment purposes are not “testimonial”, and hence are not subject to exclusion under Georgia’s evidence rules.
Of course, there may be HIPPA concerns on the part of the hospital, but the real question is whether the subpoena was proper, then if the medical records were originated because of treatment, and not in anticipation of being used as evidence in a future prosecution.
In the Samuels case, it appears the medical records were used to show the Ms. Samuels was intoxicated when she was admitted to the ER.
On the other hand, I have probably seen more cases where medical records do NOT indicate impairment or intoxication. Many times the medical records will indicate a person to be alert, their speech normal, being able to communicate properly, and so forth, when the police report indicates otherwise. Therefore the admissibility of medical records cuts both ways, and can be used by both the State and Defense in presenting evidence at trial.