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Court Orders and Subpoenas

A covered health care provider or health plan may disclose protected health information required by a court order, including the order of an administrative tribunal. However, the provider or plan may only disclose the information specifically described in the order. 

A subpoena issued by someone other than a judge, such as a court clerk or an attorney in a case, is different from a court order.  A covered provider or plan may disclose information to a party issuing a subpoena only if the notification requirements of the Privacy Rule are met.  Before the covered entity may respond to the subpoena, the Rule requires that it receive evidence that reasonable efforts were made to either:

  • notify the person who is the subject of the information about the request, so the person has a chance to object to the disclosure, or to
  • seek a qualified protective order for the information from the court.

For further information on this topic, please refer to 45 C.F.R. § 164.512(e) and OCR’s Frequently Asked Questions.