Beaverton, OR asked in Health Care Law and Medical Malpractice for Oregon

Q: Doctor I saw after my surgery lost my files and pics from my surgeon. Didn’t contact me prior, didn’t save in system.

I brought them in organized in a folder. When I tried inquiring about it, they kept saying they would look for them and call me back. They didn’t call back and lied and said I didn’t leave a voicemail when I have record of the call. They mentioned early on if they needed to reprint some of the files they would, which made me suspect they lost them. They finally admitted they threw them away. They say they don’t have access to the other files that were in there though like my 2013 surgery and photos. They never uploaded my folder into their system, or my chart. They took my folder from the exam room, the doctor came right in and did the exam then saw me out so I forgot about my folder. They never called me to say it was still there and that they were going to shred it. They just did it. Is there anything I can do? I feel like this is not common practice to throw away a folder that is not theirs, especially without uploading it to my chart first. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

1 Lawyer Answer
Virgil Royer
Virgil Royer
  • Salem, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: Very sorry for your experience. It is not a good feeling to have your records destroyed by those you expect to protect them. Is there a way to obtain these records again? You said that you brought in an organized folder, so I assume that you had copies obtained from another healthcare provider? If so, can you get the records from that source? You might be able to convince the doctor to pay for any copy service to get new ones. However, you explained that you "forgot about [your] folder." This might be something they will suggest makes you responsible for leaving it. While it is likely not common practice for a doctor (or office) to do this to a patient's records, if you seek legal action you would likely only be entitled to the foreseeable damages that you have and/or will experience as a result of their actions. However, you have a duty to mitigate those losses by obtaining the documents again, if you can. You will need to seek an experienced lawyer if you want to take legal action; however, you might want to think long and hard if their conduct was intentional (on purpose) or just an honest mistake. If it was a mistake, you might want to take the "High Road" and forgive them. They will appreciate it, and the lesson will be learned, and you won't have to burn any bridges.

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