A topic that often comes up in my practice is: must I disclose mental health records in response to a subpoena?
The short answer is yes, but there is an important caveat. Mental health records do not receive different treatment under the law and generally they must be disclosed pursuant to a lawful subpoena. But psychotherapy notes do get special treatment under HIPAA and the Virginia Health Records Privacy Act. Psychotherapy notes cannot be produced absent a court order.
Under the law, however, psychotherapy notes are strictly and narrowly defined. They do not encompass the patient’s entire chart, and they should be clearly marked and separated from the rest of the chart.
If you are a mental health care provider and want to make sure you comply with the law when responding to a subpoena, consider contacting an experienced health law attorney.