Rule 503. Physician And Psychotherapist-Patient Privilege.

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(a) Definitions. As used in this rule:
(1) A "patient" is a person who consults or is examined or interviewed by a physician or psychotherapist.
(2) A "physician" is a person authorized to practice medicine in any state or nation, or reasonably believed by the patient so to be.
(3) A "psychotherapist" is (i) a person authorized to practice medicine in any state or nation, or reasonably believed by the patient so to be, while engaged in the diagnosis or treatment of a mental or emotional condition, including alcohol or drug addiction, or, (ii) a person licensed or certified as a psychologist under the laws of any state or nation, while similarly engaged.
(4) A communication is "confidential" if not intended to be disclosed to third persons, except persons present to further the interest of the patient in the consultation, examination, or interview, persons reasonably necessary for the transmission of the communication, or persons who are participating in the diagnosis and treatment under the direction of the physician or psychotherapist, including members of the patient's family.
(5) A "medical record" is any writing, document or electronically stored information pertaining to or created as a result of treatment, diagnosis or examination of a patient.
(b) General Rule of Privilege. A patient has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing his medical records or confidential communications made for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of his physical, mental or emotional condition, including alcohol or drug addiction, among himself, physician or psychotherapist, and persons who are participating in the diagnosis or treatment under the direction of the physician or psychotherapist, including members of the patient's family.
(c) Who May Claim the Privilege. The privilege may be claimed by the patient, his guardian or conservator, or the personal representative of a deceased patient. The person who was the physician or psychotherapist at the time of the communication is presumed to have authority to claim the privilege but only on behalf of the patient.
(d) Exceptions:
(1) Proceedings for hospitalization. There is no privilege under this rule for communications relevant to an issue in proceedings to hospitalize the patient for mental illness, if the psychotherapist in the course of diagnosis or treatment has determined that the patient is in need of hospitalization.
(2) Examination by order of court. If the court orders an examination of the physical, mental, or emotional condition of a patient, whether a party or a witness, communications made in the course thereof are not privileged under this rule with respect to the particular purpose for which the examination is ordered unless the court orders otherwise.
(3) Condition and element of claim or defense.
A. There is no privilege under this rule as to medical records or communications relevant to an issue of the physical, mental, or emotional condition of the patient in any proceeding in which he or she relies upon the condition as an element of his or her claim or defense, or, after the patients death, in any proceeding in which any party relies upon the condition as an element of his or her claim or defense.
B. Any informal, ex parte contact or communication with the patient's physician or psychotherapist is prohibited, unless the patient expressly consents. The patient shall not be required, by order of court or otherwise, to authorize any communication with the physician or psychotherapist other than (i) the furnishing of medical records, and (ii) communications in the context of formal discovery procedures.

History

History Text: 

History. Amended May 13, 1991, effective July 1, 1991; amended January 22, 1998

Associated Court Rules: 
Arkansas Rules of Evidence
Group Title: 
Article V. Privileges