Medical Record Relevance To Be Determined on Entry by Entry Basis
Reasons for judgement were published last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding that in the context of personal injury claims, the relevance of clinical records should be determined on an entry by entry basis.
In last week’s case (Hyvarinen v. Burdett) the Plaintiff claimed permanent physical disability as a result of a 2008 collision. In the course of the litigation the Defendant requested various records the Plaintiff refused to produce. A court application was brought resulting in mixed success with some of the withheld documents being ordered to be produced. In adjudicating the matter Master MacNaughton provided the following sensible reasons addressing the vetting of irrelevent medical records:
 While I accept that when a document is produced by a party, it should generally be produced in its entirety, the exception is where a party is able to establish a good reason for a document not to be produced. In North American Trust Co. v. Mercer International Inc. (2000) 71 B.C.L.R. (3d) 73 (BCSC), Justice Lowry, then of this court, reiterated the general principle but said:
…But where what is clearly not relevant is by its nature such that there is good reason why it should not be disclosed, a litigant may be excused from having to make a disclosure that will in no way serve to resolve the issues. In controlling its process, the court will not permit one party to take unfair advantage or to create undue embarrassment by requiring another to disclose part of a document that could cause considerable harm but serve no legitimate purposes in resolving the issues. (para. 13)
 In this case, there are two reasons why the general rule about redacted documents should not apply. The first is because the documents sought in unredacted form are not, although generally listed as such, single documents. Rather, they are a series of records compiled over time from a number of interactions with the plaintiff. These records should not be approached globally as if they were a single document. Each entry requires a separate analysis as to whether it may prove or disprove a material fact or relate to a matter in a question in this action.
 Second, and importantly in this case, the court must be careful not to unnecessarily infringe on the plaintiff’s privacy interests. Recently, in Kaladjian v. Jose, 2012 BCSC 357, Justice Davies reiterated the importance of a plaintiff’s privacy interests in a personal injury action. He said:
Every individual’s health and the medical treatment of it is a personal and private matter that should not be lightly interfered with. In today’s world of medical specialization, disclosure of even the name of a medical professional consulted by an individual for reasons wholly unrelated to a defence plea of a prior existing condition is an unwarranted and unnecessary invasion of privacy. (para. 75)
bc injury law, clinical records, Hyvarinen v. Burdett, Master MacNaughton, Rule 7, Rule 7-1, Rule 7-1(1), Rule 7-1(11)