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Legal ramifications of doctor-patient confidentiality

Can you imagine what the world would be like if there was no concept of doctor-patient confidentiality? Anyone who went to the doctor would need to be courageous, and they would fear that their personal health issues would be broadcast to the entire world. The level of care could even be impacted in a world without doctor-patient confidentiality.

Thankfully, we don't live in that alternate reality. Doctor-patient confidentiality is part of the medical system, and it is an intrinsic pillar of receiving medical care. People can go to the doctor secure in knowing that their personal health problems, which can often be embarrassing to talk about or address, will not be shared with other people or parties that are not eligible to hear about them.

Doctor-patient confidentiality covers all medical records, diagnoses, opinions and conclusions made by a doctor to his or her patient. Other medical institutions may have access to these things, but only under certain circumstances. The doctor is forbidden from discussing your case with those who shouldn't have access to your information. The duty of confidentiality extends to you and your doctor even if you switch doctors -- and it even extends beyond death.

If a doctor breaches the doctor-patient confidentiality duty, then the patient may seek legal retribution. Doctors must get the consent of the patient before releasing any information to a third party (though there are certain exemptions). If you want your case to be reviewed, get in touch with an attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Breaches of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality," Accessed Feb. 8, 2017

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