Certain professionals have a responsibility to their clients to maintain confidentiality. This includes doctors, therapists, and attorneys. When you seek services from any of these professionals, you should be able to trust them. Doctor patient confidentiality is a serious matter and should get treated as such.

Doctor patient confidentiality is more than a matter of ethics. Doctors take an oath of confidentiality and become held to it by law. The law, known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), has many purposes. One of these is that doctors must handle and protect patient information in complete confidentiality.

If your doctor mishandled your health information, you might have a medical malpractice case on your hands. Greenwald Law Firm takes this breach of confidentiality very seriously. We want to help answer any of your questions and get you the representation you need.

Here are some common questions about doctor patient confidentiality and what to do if it’s violated.

What Is The Doctor Patient Confidentiality Law?

This law exists so that people won’t avoid medical treatment in fear that others learn their condition. Doctors, by law, are to handle patient information in complete privacy. This way, patients will feel secure enough to give any and all information to their doctor. Doctors will then be able to make a proper diagnosis and treat them accordingly. 

This level of trust is your right as a patient. The information you share with your physician should stay between the two of you only. This information includes the following:

  • Name of patient.
  • Medical records and history.
    • Pre existing conditions, lab work, x-rays, etc. 
  • Appointment details.
    • Assessments, procedures, or examinations
  • Patient diagnoses or conclusions made by the physician.
  • Any other form of communication between doctor and patient during treatment.

Your doctor must hold all the above information to utmost secrecy. This pertains to after the course of treatment is complete, as well.

How Can A Doctor Breach Patient Confidentiality?

A doctor breaches patient confidentiality when they disclose information with any third party. If you didn’t give clear consent to disclose this information with another person, it is a breach.

It doesn’t matter if the information shared was with the patient’s own family. The family is still considered a third party in the eyes of the law. In some cases, alerting the family can result in an egregious breach of confidentiality. This might be the case if a doctor alerts a family of an abortion that the patient meant to stay confidential. If this happens, not only will a lawsuit be possible. You could also bring punitive damages against the doctor.

Even in the case of death, a doctor is still held to this level of privacy. They should not disclose the deceased patient’s medical records with any other party.

Is A Breach Of Doctor Patient Confidentiality A Form Of Medical Malpractice?

Breaching doctor patient confidentiality is a form of medical malpractice. A doctor is held liable for malpractice if they disclose any of your medical information. If it reached a third party without your consent, there’s grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.

Depending on the extent of the breach, it is also possible to receive compensation for the damages it caused.

Medical Malpractice Definition

We define medical malpractice as the following:

When a healthcare professional breaches their duty or causes injury to a patient through an act of negligence.

Under the law, a medical malpractice claim has many characteristics. One of these is that the circumstance is a violation of the standard of care. It is the right of a patient that their doctor remains consistent to this universal standard of care. The next characteristic is if an injury was a result of this act of negligence. Finally, if the injury resulted in significant damages it is medical malpractice. The patient must be able to prove that the injury and damages were a direct result of negligence by their doctor.

Are There Exceptions To Doctor Patient Confidentiality? 

The case for medical malpractice from a breach of confidentiality is not always definite. There are some exceptions. If you are looking to file a malpractice lawsuit, the following situations might prevent it:

  • The patient is a danger to his or herself or others.
  • The physician becomes legally mandated to make a statement to a public health official.
  • The patient experiences health insurance-related problems.
  • A contractible disease (such as HIV or AIDS) is in danger of spreading.
  • A physician is treating injuries that relate to a criminal investigation.
    • Suspected child abuse
    • Gunshot or stab wounds
    • Injuries sustained from a DUI 

A person might also waive their own confidentiality rights in the case of a lawsuit or personal injury claim. In a personal injury claim or lawsuit, your medical information generally becomes the main focus. Moving forward with a case of that nature infers that you consent to this breach. 

How Do I File A Breach Of Confidentiality Lawsuit?

If you feel a physician has breached your confidentiality, you’re entitled to a lawsuit. The first thing you’ll need to do is contact a lawyer. You need an experienced professional on your side who is going to fight for your rights and prove the doctor’s liability. 

If your lawyer is able to prove you experienced a loss that occurred as a result of the violation of privacy, you could recover damages. This might include damage to your reputation or emotional pain or suffering that the doctor caused. 

Depending on the extent of the disclosure and if it proves to be egregious, punitive damages may also result from the suit.

Contact The Greenwald Law Firm Today

If you have experienced a breach of confidentiality and seek to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact us. The Greenwald Law Firm has been serving the Shreveport, LA area for over 20 years. We help our clients receive the compensation they deserve, including a case that won $4.3 million for a breach of contract. Call our office at (318) 219-7867 or visit our website to request a free consultation today.

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