Bill S6847-2011

Grants the state commission of correction authority to access inmate medical records

Grants the state commission of correction authority to access inmate medical records.



  • Jul 18, 2012: SIGNED CHAP.232
  • Jun 20, 2012: returned to senate
  • Jun 20, 2012: passed assembly
  • Jun 20, 2012: ordered to third reading cal.472
  • Jun 20, 2012: substituted for a9553
  • May 8, 2012: referred to codes
  • May 8, 2012: PASSED SENATE
  • May 2, 2012: 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • May 1, 2012: 1ST REPORT CAL.683


VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Crime Victims, Crime and Correction - May 1, 2012
Ayes (13): Nozzolio, DeFrancisco, Gallivan, Griffo, Little, Maziarz, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Rivera, Hassell-Thompson, Montgomery, Kennedy, Espaillat
Ayes W/R (1): Peralta




An act to amend the correction law, in relation to granting the state commission of correction authority to access inmate medical records


This bill would amend the Correction Law to clarify that the State Commission of Correction ("the Commission") has the authority to obtain medical records of certain inmates being treated in outside medical facilities.


Section 1 of the bill would amend Correction Law § 46(1) to specifically include inmate medical records in the type of information to which the Commission has access.

Section 2 of the bill would amend Correction Law § 46(2) to authorize Commission attorneys to issue and enforce subpoenas on behalf of the Commission; it also provides that the Commission's subpoena powers extend to the medical records of inmates that are made outside of a correctional facility during the inmate's incarceration.

Section 3 of the bill provides the effective date.


Correction Law § 47 requires the Commission's Correction Medical Review Board ("the Board") to investigate and report on the systems for delivery of medical care to inmates in correctional facilities, and to investigate the death of any such inmate. Pursuant to Correction Law § 46(1), the Commission is entitled to access to all books, records, data or information pertaining to any correctional facility that is deemed necessary for carrying out the commission's functions, powers and duties.


This is a new bill.


As the only agency charged with overseeing the overall delivery of health care in jails and prisons, it is imperative that the Commission have access to all inmate medical records. The issue becomes particularly problematic in the case of an inmate death. The Board is

statutorily charged with investigating these deaths, rendering findings and recommendations to prevent future such events. The most seriously ill inmates invariably end up in hospital care, and access to their medical records is vital to ascertaining cause of death, as well as being one of the best sources of information on the quality of care the inmate was receiving in a correctional facility.

The Board's ability to perform these vital functions has been limited by determinations in some jurisdictions that the Commission's authority does not extend to inmate medical records, especially those made and kept outside of a correctional facility. In support of this position, these jurisdictions cite the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA") and the physician-patient privilege set forth in CPLR § 4504. This has resulted in hospitals occasionally refusing to honor Commission subpoenas.

The Commission is currently appealing the decision of the Appellate Division, First Department, upholding the determination of the Supreme Court, New York County, granting the motion of the Health and Hospitals Corporation ("HHC") to quash a Commission subpoena based upon the court's finding that the physician-patient privilege prevented the Commission from accessing these records. See Matter of NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. v. NYS Commission of Correction, 76 A.D.3d 453 (1st Dep't 2010); compare Matter of State Commission of Correction v. Nassau County Medical Center, 137 A.D.2d 127 (3rd Dep't 1988) (upholding Board's subpoena for medical records of inmate who died at the county hospital). The First Department's ruling effectively prevents the Commission from gaining access to any of the New York City Department of Correction (Rikers Island) inmate hospital records, as all New York City inmates are treated at HHC hospitals when acute care is required. As a result, the Board's ability to conduct a thorough investigation of both inmate health care issues and inmate deaths has been hindered. This bill would permit the Board to perform its statutory mandates in every jurisdiction in the State.


This bill would have no budgetary impact.


This bill would take effect immediately.


STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6847 IN SENATE March 28, 2012 ___________
Introduced by Sen. NOZZOLIO -- (at request of the NYS Commission of Correction) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction AN ACT to amend the correction law, in relation to granting the state commission of correction authority to access inmate medical records THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 46 of the correction law, as added by chapter 865 of the laws of 1975, is amended to read as follows: 1. The commission, any member or any employee designated by the commission must be granted access at any and all times to any correc- tional facility or part thereof and to all books, records, INMATE MEDICAL RECORDS and data pertaining to any correctional facility deemed necessary for carrying out the commission's functions, powers and duties. The commission, any member or any employee designated by the chairman may require from the officers or employees of a correctional facility any information deemed necessary for the purpose of carrying out the commission's functions, powers and duties. S 2. Subdivision 2 of section 46 of the correction law, as amended by chapter 536 of the laws of 1994, is amended to read as follows: 2. In the exercise of its functions, powers and duties, the commission [and], any member, AND ANY ATTORNEY EMPLOYED BY THE COMMISSION is authorized to issue and enforce a subpoena and a subpoena duces tecum, administer oaths and examine persons under oath, in accordance with and pursuant to civil practice law and rules. A person examined under oath pursuant to this subdivision shall have the right to be accompanied by counsel who shall advise the person of their rights subject to reason- able limitations to prevent obstruction of, or interference with, the orderly conduct of the examination. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, A SUBPOENA MAY BE ISSUED AND ENFORCED PURSUANT TO THIS SUBDIVI- SION FOR THE MEDICAL RECORDS OF AN INMATE OF A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER SUCH MEDICAL RECORDS WERE MADE DURING THE COURSE OF THE INMATE'S INCARCERATION. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.


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