Former CMO begs judge to stop purge of Arizona hospitals' patient records

The former CMO of two Arizona hospitals that abruptly closed last year is urging a judge to alter a plan that calls for thousands of patients' medical records to be destroyed later this month, according to the Arizona Republic.

Florence (Ariz.) Hospital at Anthem and Gilbert (Ariz.) Hospital, both owned by Gilbert-based New Vision Health, closed in June 2018, a few weeks after entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy. When the hospitals shut down, patients were left without access to their medical records.

In February, a Maricopa County judge ruled that the hospitals must use $92,000 in assets to temporarily reactivate the EHR. Patients have until June 23 to request their records before they are destroyed.

In May, Timothy Johns, MD, former CMO of the hospitals, sent a letter to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman, urging him to stop the patient files from being destroyed.

"Purging those records next month I believe will lead to catastrophic consequences," Dr. Johns wrote.

He said it is likely many patients will miss the June 23 deadline to request their records, and those records will be needed for future care.

"In the event of needed surgical intervention a surgeon will need whatever studies and records we had," he wrote.

Even if the court doesn't grant Dr. Johns' request, some patient records may be preserved. A statewide health information exchange is negotiating the purchase of copies of patient files. If an agreement is finalized, physician notes and other types of electronic files would be stored in perpetuity, according to the report.

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