Investigative Subpoena, Conflict with Psychologist-Patient Privilege

Criminal Law Update

In re Petition for Subpoenas, 282 Mich App 585; 766 NW2d 675 (2009)(march’09).The attorney general, acting on behalf of the Michigan Department of Community Health, sought full disclosure of ten patient files in order to investigate “possible billing fraud” on the part of a licensed psychologist.The trial court originally approved the subpoenas but later quashed them on motion of respondent psychologist.Analyzing the psychologist-patient privilege statute (MCL 333.18237) in conjunction with the investigative subpoena provision (MCL 333.16235(1)), the court upheld the trial court’s quash of the subpoenas in this case.The court concluded that there was no ambiguity in the psychologist-patient privilege statute, no exceptions applied here, and reading the provisions together, it is clear the legislature plainly intended to exempt a licensed psychologist’s disclosure of patient records from the investigative subpoena power.