Medical Malpractice and Patient ConfidentialityR. Klettke
January 15, 2013 — 1,004 views
Breaking a patient – physician confidentiality is one type of medical malpractice and can be grounds for a medical malpracticelawsuit filed by a personal injury attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases, otherwise known as a "medical malpractice attorney".
Those seeking medical care or advice implicitly trust that their personal information will be kept safe from disclosure to unauthorized parties. Every patient has a right to feel safe in that trust, and can suffer in several ways if the confidentiality is broken.
Protection of patient confidentiality involves more than one might initially imagine. For example:
- All contents of the patient's record should be considered confidential and therefore "protected". This includes information the patient has provided (such as health history forms), the providers' examination notes, telephone messages, notes or letters written to the doctor, labs, prescriptions, and diagnostic tests.
- Doctor-patient confidentiality still applies even if the patient permanently stops going to that particular office or facility, or is no longer considered an active patient.
- Sensitive patient information should be kept safe from persons both within and outside the facility or office.
There are some exceptions to the rule of confidentiality whereby the patient's permission is not required for release of their records. In general, the following situations would not give cause to a medical malpractice lawsuit for breach of confidentiality:
- Data regarding certain communicable diseases, bacteria, or viruses must be reported to State Health Officers such as the Center for Communicable Diseases or The World Health Organization
- Cases of child abuse, spousal abuse, or elder abuse
- In order to authorize payment for claims, insurance companies always need at least a diagnosis. Supporting data such as diagnostic tests, lab results and more may need to be supplied as well
- A medical malpractice attorney will issue a subpoena for records to the medical professional who is being charged with malpractice.
It is the health-care provider's duty to create and maintain a trustworthy relationship with the patient. When that trust is broken, they can and should be held accountable for the serious negative consequences experienced by a patient. If you have suffered due to the inappropriate disclosure of your medical information, a medical malpractice attorneycan advise you of your legal rights and options you may wish to take.
Important Advisory: This article is not intended to provide legal advice upon which you or anyone else should rely in making any decisions regarding the instituting or prosecuting of a legal claim. Laws and rules relating to the bringing of a claim vary widely from state to state. You should always contact a personal injury attorney to obtain information as to the rules and the laws pertaining to any claim you might have.
R. Klettke is a freelance writer. He writes about personal injury and medical malpractice law and other matters of jurisprudence.