ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
BRUCE A. BRIGHTWELL STEVE CARTER
Louisville, Kentucky Attorney General of Indiana
BART M. BETTEAU FRANCES BARROW
New Albany, Indiana Deputy Attorney General
IN RE: THE COMMITMENT OF ) ALAN LEE BERRYMAN ) ) ALAN LEE BERRYMAN, ) ) Appellant-Respondent, ) ) vs. ) No. 10A05-0302-CV-86 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) ) Appellee-Petitioner. )
OPINION FOR PUBLICATION
State v. Berryman, 2003 WL 22204744 at *1 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003) (internal
citations omitted). After a trial on the merits, the jury found Berryman
not responsible by reason of insanity. Id. at *2.
On January 23, 2002, the State filed a petition for involuntary commitment of Berryman in the trial court, which it amended on February 11, 2002. See footnote On February 19, 2002, the trial court granted the petition and committed Berryman to a state hospital, i.e., Logansport State Hospital, for a regular commitment pursuant to Indiana Code Section 12-26-7. See footnote The commitment order required the superintendent of Logansport State Hospital or Berrymans attending physician to provide the State, i.e., the Petitioner, with twenty-days notice of Berrymans discharge and with any reviews of Berrymans care and treatment under Indiana Code Section 12-26-15-1.See footnote The trial court also ordered the superintendent or the attending physician to file quarterly reviews of Berrymans treatment with the trial court and to provide notice to the State of those reviews.See footnote On November 26, 2001, the trial court entered an amended commitment order, which provided that notice of Berrymans discharge, pursuant to Indiana Code Section 12-26-12-1, be given to Krieger.
On October 18, 2002, the State filed a motion with the trial court, requesting permission to disseminate the quarterly reviews to Keiths family. Over Berrymans objection, the trial court granted the States motion and decreed that the Quarterly Reviews previously ordered furnished to the [trial court] and the [State,] may be disseminated by the [State] to [Krieger] immediately upon receipt. Appellants App. at 6. It is from this order that Berryman now appeals.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the Motion for Dissemination of
Quarterly Reviews by the [State] to [Krieger] filed by the Petitioner, is hereby
granted, and Quarterly Reviews previously ordered furnished to the [trial court] and to
the [State,] may be disseminated by the [State] to [Krieger] immediately upon receipt.
Appellants App. at 6 (emphasis added).
The trial court based its dissemination order upon Indiana Code Sections 12-26-12-1 and 12-16-15-1(b). Indiana Code Section 12-26-12-1 provides, in part, as follows:
(a) Except as provided in subsection (c), a court that orders a commitment may order the superintendent to notify the petitioner in the commitment proceeding and other person designated by the court that the committed individual will be discharged.
(b) The notice required under subsection (a) shall be given to the petitioner
and other person designated by the court at least twenty (20) days before
the end of the commitment period.
Moreover, Indiana Code Section 12-26-15-1 provides that:
(a) At least annually, and more often if directed by the court, the superintendent of the facility or the attending physician including the superintendent or attending physician of an outpatient therapy program, shall file with the court a review of the individuals care and treatment. The review must contain a statement of the following:
(1) The mental condition of the individual.
(2) Whether the individual is dangerous or gravely disabled.
(3) Whether the individual:
(A) needs to remain in the facility; or
(B) may be cared for under a guardianship.
(b) If the court has entered an order under IC 12-26-12-1, the superintendent
or the attending physician shall give notice of the review to the petitioner
in the individuals commitment proceeding and other persons that were designated by the
court under IC 12-26-12-1.
Whether these statutes, read together, permit the dissemination of a patients mental health
records is a question of first impression in Indiana. Initially, we observe
that the trial courts dissemination order does not make a distinction between notice
of the review, under Indiana Code Section 12-26-15-1, and the review itself.
However, Indiana Code Section 12-26-15-1 clearly distinguishes between the review, which is filed
with the trial court, and the notice of the review, which is given
to the petitioner and other persons designated by the trial court. Accordingly,
pursuant to Indiana Code Section 12-26-15-1, the State, as petitioner, and Krieger, as
a person designated by the trial court, are only entitled to receive notice
that the quarterly review of Berrymans care and treatment was conducted according to
the trial courts order as prescribed by Indiana Code Section 12-26-15-1(a). The
quarterly reviews themselves, which likely contain confidential mental health records, without more, are
not to be disclosed. Thus, to the extent that the trial courts
dissemination order permits the State and Krieger to receive quarterly reviews of Berrymans
mental health treatment, purportedly based upon Indiana Code Section 12-26-15-1, it is erroneous.
However, we note that a trial court may order the disclosure of mental health records in limited circumstances. Generally, mental health records are confidential, but this confidentiality is not absolute. See, e.g., 56 C.J.S. Mental Health § 17 (1992). Indiana Code Section 16-39-2, which applies only to mental health records, provides that: A patients mental health record is confidential and shall be disclosed only with the consent of the patient unless otherwise provided by statute. See Ind. Code §§ 16-39-2-1 and -3. See footnote Indiana Code Section 16-39-2-6(a)(14) provides that [w]ithout the consent of the patient, the patients mental health record may only be disclosed . . . [u]nder a court order under IC 16-39-3.
Indiana Code Section 16-39-3-3(2)See footnote provides that:
A person . . . who has filed or is a party to a legal proceeding and who seeks access to a patients mental health record without the patients written consent . . . may file a petition in a circuit or superior court requesting a release of the patients mental health record.
Procedurally, the trial court is then required to conduct a hearing on the
petition for the release of mental health records.
See Ind. Code §
16-39-3-4. Indiana Code Section 16-39-3-7 provides that
At the conclusion of the hearing, the court may order the release of the patients mental health record if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that:
(1) other reasonable methods of obtaining the information are not available or would
not be effective; and
(2) the need for disclosure outweighs the potential harm to the patient. In weighing the potential harm to the patient, the court shall consider the impact of disclosure on the provider-patient privilege and the patients rehabilitative process.
In the event that the trial court authorizes the release of a patients
mental health records, in the absence of the patients consent, the trial court
(1) Limit disclosure to those parts of the patients record that are essential to fulfill the objective of the order.
(2) Limit disclosure to those persons whose need for information is the basis of the order.
(3) Include other measures necessary to limit disclosure for the protection of the patient, the provider-patient privilege, and the rehabilitative process.
Ind. Code § 16-39-3-9.
In the present case, even assuming that the trial court intended to provide Krieger with the quarterly reviews of Berrymans mental health treatment, as opposed to the mere notice that such reviews took place, the dissemination order is deficient. First, Krieger, i.e., the person seeking access to Berrymans mental health records, did not file a petition with the trial court requesting the release of the mental health records. See Ind. Code § 16-39-3-3(2). Second, the trial court failed to find that other reasonable methods of obtaining Berrymans mental health information were unavailable or ineffective and that Kriegers need for the disclosure outweighs the potential harm to Berryman emanating from such disclosure. See Ind. Code § 16-39-3-4. Lastly, the trial courts dissemination order does not limit the records to be disclosed or include other measures necessary to limit disclosure for the protection of Berryman. See Ind. Code § 16-39-3-9.
For the foregoing reasons, we reverse the trial courts order permitting the State to receive and disseminate quarterly reviews of Berrymans mental health records to Krieger.
KIRSCH, J., and VAIDIK, J., concur.