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Communication with Treating Physician

Adopted: October 24, 1997

Opinion prohibits the employer's lawyer from engaging in direct communications with the treating physician for an employee with a workers' compensation claim.

Editor's Note: This opinion was originally published as RPC 224 (Third Revision). This opinion is overruled by N.C. Gen. Stat. S 97-25.6 (2012) (Reasonable access to medical information).

Inquiry #1:

Employee was injured in a work-related accident. Attorney A represents Employee in his workers' compensation claim. Attorney X represents the employer. Employee's treating physician is Dr. Care. May Attorney X contact Dr. Care privately, without the consent of Employee or Attorney A, to discuss Employee's medical treatment?

Opinion #1:

No. See Salaam v. N.C. Department of Transportation, 122 N.C. 83, 468 S.E.2d 536 (1996), disc. rev. improvidently allowed, 345 N.C. 494, ___S.E.2d___ (1997) (applying the holding in Crist v. Moffat, 326 N.C. 326, 389 S.E.2d 41 (1990), to adversarial proceedings before the Industrial Commission and recognizing the public policy interest in protecting patient privacy in light of the adequacy of formal discovery procedures).

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