Judge rules Brown files to be reviewed abroad
Two independent overseas doctors are to review the medical records of 75 patients of doctors Ewart Brown and Mahesh Reddy to check if they were “over-tested”, a court heard yesterday.
The files, along with those of 190 other patients, were seized by detectives in raids on two medical clinics owned by Dr Brown, a former premier, in February 2017 and have been sealed on the orders of a judge ever since.
A Supreme Court hearing was held yesterday to determine a “protocol” for how the medical records can be used by police investigating allegations that the clinics — Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and Brown-Darrell in Smith’s — ordered unnecessary diagnostic imaging scans for patients to boost profits.
An application to adjourn the proceedings by lawyer Jerome Lynch QC, representing about 150 of the clinics’ patients, was rejected by Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams on Tuesday.
Mr Lynch argued again yesterday that the judge should decide if the police acted illegally in seizing the files before she agreed to order a protocol for the use of the material.
The proposed plan for the files is for any personal information to be removed by counsel for Bermuda Police Service before they are scanned and sent to experts in Britain and the United States for review.
Mr Lynch said his clients were concerned that if their files were reviewed and evidence of “over-testing and putting patients in jeopardy” was found, as the police expected, the records would “inevitably” be turned over to detectives.
He added: “We would have almost no say in that process. At the present time, the patients’ position is absolutely clear — ‘this is our material. You have never asked us, our permission, to have it. You could have. You didn’t.’”
Dr Reddy, the medical director at Bermuda Healthcare Services, contested the seizure of the files in a series of closed-court hearings after the raids, leading to the records of 265 patients being sealed.
The court heard yesterday that Dr Reddy and the clinics no longer planned to pursue their initial claim against police that the files were illegally taken.
Mr Lynch, whose clients got permission to intervene in the proceedings, said it was understandable that the plaintiffs had chosen not to pursue that argument.
But he added: “With respect, it’s not their privilege to give away. It’s ours to keep.”
He said the importance of doctor-patient confidentiality was even greater than legal professional privilege because of the damage that could be caused by a breach of confidence.
Mr Lynch added that it was also of “significant” importance that the public had confidence in the “state which seeks to seize that material”.
Delroy Duncan, for Dr Reddy, objected to the grant of access to the files and said his client supported the patients’ position.
Mark Diel, for the police, said his clients had tried throughout the process to “assuage any concerns about confidentiality”.
He asked that the protocol be restricted only to the use of the files of those patients represented by Mr Lynch.
The files of others — those who are either patients of the clinics but not represented by Mr Lynch or who were referred to the clinics for scans by their own doctors — will remain sealed for the time being.
The judge said the protocol would be decided upon, despite the objections of Mr Lynch and Mr Duncan, and that it had been agreed that the files of 75 of Mr Lynch’s clients would be sent to the experts.
The case was adjourned until next Thursday.
Dr Brown has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offence.
Dr Reddy’s home was raided by detectives in May 2016 and he later won a civil case against the police for unlawful arrest.
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