Releasing Medical Records in Abuse Cases

November 21, 2019

New Jersey DCPP attorneys discuss the potential consequences of releasing medical records in an abuse case.Having a Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) investigator show up at one’s home, often with armed officers, is one of the most traumatic things a family can experience. During this stressful time, individuals often sign releases for medical records or other documents without understanding the potential consequences of their actions. For many, the DCPP’s broad power to obtain a child’s medical records as part of these investigations raises serious concerns.

DCPP Investigatory Process

Any complaint received by the DCPP alleging harm or neglect of a child will trigger an investigation. Throughout the process, investigators will seek a wide range of information, including prior abuse or neglect reports, school records, counselor notes, and medical records. Interviews with the child, their parents, and any other individual living in the same home as the child will be conducted. To obtain this information, including medical records, the DCPP must obtain the proper releases. In cases where there is sufficient evidence of abuse, the DCPP may be able to obtain certain records without prior parental consent through the use of a subpoena or other types of court authorization.

Refusing to Sign Releases for Medical Records

Parents have a right to keep the medical history of their children private.  Individuals under investigation by the DCPP have no legal obligation to disclose this information to investigators. In many cases, parents believe a child’s medical record can be helpful in defending abuse or neglect allegations. While this may be true, parents should never sign a release for medical records related to themselves or their children without first consulting with experienced counsel.  Many of these releases are designed to allow access to unlimited confidential information that may be unrelated to the present allegations. With the assistance of legal counsel, these releases can be redrafted to allow disclosure of only relevant information.

Violating the Due Process Rights of Parents

Parents facing DCPP abuse allegations possess certain constitutional rights, including the right to due process and the right to privacy to protect them from overreaching power of state and federal child welfare agencies. Since all complaints made to the DCPP remain confidential, even if the allegations are proven false, an accused individual often has no idea what charges are being made against them. Coercing a parent to sign a medical release is never proper. Families subjected to a DCPP investigation should retain an experienced New Jersey DCPP attorney who can help them navigate the legal process while protecting their individual and parental rights.

New Jersey DCPP Attorneys at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Protect the Rights of Families Facing DCPP Allegations

If you are under investigation by the DCPP, the experienced New Jersey DCPP attorneys at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker are here to help. Our dedicated attorneys understand the extreme stress a DCPP investigation can put on a family. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we proudly serve families throughout South Jersey, including those in Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees. To schedule a confidential consultation today, call us at 856-795-9400 or submit an online inquiry form.

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