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Morrill v. Maryland Board of Physicians

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

December 20, 2019

ANN C. MORRILL
v.
THE MARYLAND BOARD OF PHYSICIANS

          Circuit Court for Baltimore County Case No. 03-C-16-007138 OC

          Graeff, Reed, Friedman, JJ.

          OPINION

          Reed, J.

         The Maryland Board of Physicians ("the Board") conducted an investigation into Dr. Ann C. Morrill's ("Dr. Morrill") prescribing habits following a complaint alleging she overprescribed opioid pain medications to a patient, even after being informed of the patient's misuse of the drug. Subsequent to a preliminary investigation, the Board subpoenaed Dr. Morrill's medical records for nine additional patients.

         On July 7, 2016, Dr. Morrill filed a motion for protective order and/or motion to quash the subpoena. On September 12, 2016, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County denied Dr. Morrill's motions. On October 8, 2016, Dr. Morrill filed a motion to stay enforcement of the order pending appeal, which was denied. Finally, on October 30, 2016, Dr. Morrill filed a motion to reconsider, which was also denied. On October 11, 2015, the Board filed a motion to compel the requested medical records from nine of Dr. Morrill's patients. The circuit court granted the Board's motion on December 27, 2016.

         Dr. Morrill now brings this timely appeal from the circuit court's decision to deny her motion for protective order and/or motion to quash the subpoena on September 12, 2016. Dr. Morrill presents one question for our review, which we have rephrased for clarity:

I. Did the circuit court abuse its discretion where it denied Dr. Morrill's motion for protective order and/or motion to quash the June 28, 2016, subpoena issued by the Board?

         For the following reasons, we answer Dr. Morrill's question in the negative and affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On May 2, 2016, Dr. Morrill received a letter from the Maryland Board of Physicians ("the Board") informing her that a complaint had been filed against her. The complaint, filed by the mother of a previous patient, alleged that Dr. Morrill, "continue[d] to prescribe [opioid pain] medications for [her] daughter despite sending [Dr. Morrill] letters…to tell [Dr. Morrill] that [her daughter] abuses them." The complaint alleged that the patient had two DUIs and was jailed, had her child taken away from her care, and continues to be hooked on opioid pain medication. Finally, the complainant alleges "[she knows] of others that Dr. Morrill has done this to, especially young women that work for her." However, the complaint never lists the name of these young women or the "other's [sic]." Attached to the complaint was a subpoena for the complainant's daughter's medical records as well as Dr. Morrill's personnel file. Dr. Morrill produced the documents on May 26, 2016.

         Based on a preliminary investigation, it was determined by the Board that further investigation was needed. As such, the Board opened a full investigation into the allegations asserted in the complaint. On June 28, 2016, the Board sent another letter to Dr. Morrill informing her of the full investigation and requesting the complete medical records of nine patients. The subpoena, attached to the letter, required Dr. Morrill to deliver the documents to the Board within fifteen days of the date on the subpoena.[1] On July 1, 2016, Dr. Morrill's counsel sent an email to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's ("the Department") Executive Director stating:

Unless you can explain to me how the records of these nine patients will aid your investigation into whether and how my client got the patient in question 'hooked' on narcotics, I will move to quash this subpoena as none of these patient records could possibly be relevant to your inquiry.

         Unsatisfied with the Department's response, Dr. Morrill filed a motion for protective order and/or motion to quash subpoena on July 7, 2016. Dr. Morrill argued, among many things, that the request was unduly burdensome, too expensive to comply with, and was irrelevant to the Board's investigation.

         Dr. Morrill's motion was denied on September 12, 2016. The court stated, "[u]nder the circumstances of this case, the court has no authority to interfere with the investigation by the Board of Physicians' subpoena it has issued for the medical records of Dr. Morrill." On September 28, 2016, Dr. Morrill ...


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