Service of Process
The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) provides legal services for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston), an academic health institution consisting of several professional schools, including Cizik School of Nursing, McGovern Medical School, MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School, School of Biomedical Informatics, School of Dentistry, and School of Public Health
The purpose of this page is to provide guidance on UTHealth Houston’s policy and practice on service of process in different contexts. Please note that UTHealth Houston is one of several health-related institutions in the University of Texas System. Before proceeding with your request, please ensure you are contacting the correct institution.
While it is the intent of UTHealth Houston and OLA to cooperate with appropriate legal process, OLA does not act as any employee’s agent for service of process and only accepts service of process directly in very limited circumstances.
- University Matters
OLA only accepts service of process on documents appropriately directed to the University and to the University’s President in the President’s official capacity. All other attempts at service will be redirected to the appropriate method.
- Medical and Billing Records
Requests for UTHealth Houston’s and its affiliated entities’ medical records are often improperly addressed to individual providers (or residents) or clinics and request the individual employee or clinic to provide medical records for a patient. Under UTHealth Houston policy, UTHealth Houston personnel are not custodians of records and cannot comply with these requests, including subpoenas, except for very specific exceptions coordinated in advance by OLA.
Medical and billing records requests, including subpoenas, should be directed to the appropriate custodian of records:
- UT Physicians
UT Physicians, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, is the clinical practice of the faculty and staff physicians of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. UT Physicians medical records may be requested through the UT Physicians Medical Records Department. UT Physicians billing records may be requested through the UT Physicians Affidavit & Subpoena Department.
- UTHealth Houston Behavioral Sciences Campus: Harris County Psychiatric Center and the John S. Dunn Behavioral Science Center at UTHealth Houston
Records from the UTHealth Houston Behavioral Sciences Campus may be requested through the HCPC Medical Records Office.
- UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry
UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry records may be requested through the School of Dentistry Health Information Management Department.
UTHealth Houston employees are often sought for their opinion or testimony in civil matters. As with other matters, OLA does not act as any employee's agent for service of process. UTHealth Houston policy also prohibits any employee from accepting service of any legal process for another employee. OLA reviews subpoenas and informal requests for opinion or testimony as described below. Scheduling and invoicing (where appropriate) are coordinated at the department level.
- Subpoenas To effect proper service of subpoenas in the civil context, attorneys and process servers should look up the employee’s contact information using the search function on their school’s website to obtain the employee’s department information for proper service. The school websites are:
Attorneys and process servers may then contact the employee’s department to schedule an appointment for in-person service of process directly to the employee. Departments are directed to provide attorneys and process servers the information necessary to effectuate in-person service of process (and only that information). Departments may contact OLA with any questions on this process if necessary. OLA does not communicate directly with attorneys or process servers for these matters until after the subpoena has been served.
- Informal Requests
Informal requests for deposition (i.e., without subpoena) follow a similar process. Attorneys should email the Office of Legal Affairs with either the case style or a copy of the most recent petition, as well as a brief description of the intended purpose of the testimony sought. OLA will review the request and refer to the employee’s department for further review and scheduling. Where no subpoena has been issued, the employee ultimately decides whether to participate in an informal meeting or deposition. OLA does not maintain fee schedules or CVs.
UTHealth Houston employees are also sought for their testimony in criminal matters. As with other matters, OLA does not act as any employee's agent for service of process. However, attorneys and investigators seeking to serve subpoenas for testimony in relation to criminal matters should look up the employee’s name using the search function on their school’s website prior to service where possible. If the employee’s contact information is not on the school website, prosecutors and investigators may email OLA to request the proper contact information.
In criminal matters where several UTHealth Houston employees’ testimony is sought, investigators and prosecutors are encouraged to reach out to OLA well in advance of trial.
UTHealth Houston employees cannot discuss patient care related matters with criminal investigators or prosecutors without having first been issued a court-ordered subpoena or summons issued by a judicial officer, a grand jury subpoena or an administrative request providing that the information is relevant and material to a legitimate law enforcement inquiry. The request must be specific and limited in scope to the extent reasonably practicable in light of the purpose for which the information is sought, and de-identified information could not reasonably be used per 45 CFR §164.512(f)(1)(ii).
OLA does not accept service of process on legal documents relating to any employee in their personal capacity (i.e., those not related to the employee’s work for UTHealth Houston, such as custody, divorce, etc.). Attorneys and process servers seeking to serve process on any employee in connection with these matters should contact the employee directly outside of the workplace.
Hospitals and clinics are not official business addresses for UTHealth Houston providers. Although UTHealth Houston providers treat patients at affiliated hospitals and clinics throughout the greater Houston area (e.g., Memorial Hermann-TMC, Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, LBJ General, etc.), our providers do not maintain business offices at those locations. The providers also do not maintain offices at UT Physicians clinics.
Under UTHealth Houston policy, where a UTHealth Houston employee has served as a treating provider, the employee is prohibited from serving as a designated expert witness. The employee’s testimony must be limited to their factual knowledge in treating the patient.
Since most UTHealth Houston employees are not custodians of record, they cannot provide records, including medical records, in response to subpoenas duces tecum (subpoenas for records). If a third party would like to discuss medical records with a UTHealth Houston employee, the third party must (1) obtain the record through the appropriate channel, (2) provide appropriate HIPAA authorization or other authority enabling the UTHealth employee to discuss the record with the third party, and (3) provide the relevant record to the UTHealth employee for review.
Questions concerning service of process may be directed to the Office of Legal Affairs by email or by phone (713-500-3268).