Breach of Doctor Patient Confidentiality

The general principal of doctor patient confidentiality is that someone seeking medical advice or treatment should not have to worry that the private details of their medical conditions or medical concerns will be shared with others. It is expected that whatever information that is gathered will only be used for treatment purposes and will remain in the doctor’s office.

Most graduating medical-school students still swear to some form of the Hippocratic Oath. It’s principles are still held sacred by doctors to this day and includes a passage supporting the need for patient privacy.

“I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.”

Disclosing medical information to unauthorized parties is not only considered to be a violation of medical ethics, but is considered to be a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality and can be cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Doctor patient confidentiality not only covers what you might share with your doctor, but also what a doctor may conclude or discover independently. You should expect that your doctor and your doctor’s professional staff will keep your medical records and communications confidential.

All of your medical records should remain confidential including:

  • x-rays
  • lab reports
  • blood tests
  • medical histories
  • medical forms
  • communication with your doctor
  • communication with the medical staff

Once a doctor is bound by doctor patient confidentiality they cannot release or divulge any medical information about their patients without consent. This means that even after you are no longer being treated by a doctor they still cannot release medical details to any third parties without your permission. Unauthorized disclosure to unauthorized parties may create a medical malpractice case.

Your medical records are your property. You can request that your medical records be shared with or discussed with another doctor or relative at any time by providing written consent. Without your consent, even your doctors cannot discuss or share your medical information.

However, the duty of confidentiality is not absolute. Doctors may be required to divulge or to disclose personal information against the patent's will under very limited circumstances. In some cases, government officials can demand or courts can subpoena information requiring a doctor to comply and release medical information. Additionally, doctor patient confidentiality only exists if there is an authentic doctor patient relationship that exists or has existed between the doctor and the patient.

If you believe that you may have a medical malpractice case, call the Sweeney Law Firm to get your questions answered and learn your legal rights. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case.