Doctor Subject to Punitive Damages for Destruction of Records
Parents alleged in a medical malpractice action that their child was misdiagnosed by the defendant doctor resulting in her death from diabetic ketoacidosis. After the defendant had received a letter from the plaintiff’s attorney, the physician destroyed the child’s medical records disposing of notes of her visits. The plaintiff was awarded compensatory and punitive damages for the destruction of evidence. The court held a plaintiff may recover punitive damages for a medical professional's act of altering or destroying medical records in an effort to evade potential medical malpractice liability. However, the court substantially reduced the $7.5 million punitive damage award.