When you think of medical malpractice, you might think of surgical errors or mistaking a patient's name. Maybe you think about a doctor who fails to diagnose a patient or one who ignores a patient's cries for help.
There are many other kinds of medical malpractice, though. One that isn't spoken about as often is a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality.
What should you know about doctor-patient confidentiality?
In the majority of cases, a doctor must have a patient's permission before signing over information about that patient to a third party. It doesn't matter if that party is family, an attorney or other party. The doctor needs to get your approval before discussing your health or records with another person.
Doctor-patient confidentiality's purpose is to make sure that all patients feel comfortable seeking medical care no matter what the issue is. The confidential relationship makes it easier for patients to talk to their doctors openly without fear of their conditions or conversations going public.
Being open with a doctor is important, because it helps the doctor make an accurate diagnosis. If a patient fears telling a doctor about something that happened or about certain symptoms, then he or she may not get the treatment needed.
Are there exceptions to when a doctor may or may not talk about your medical records?
Yes. Usually, if confidential information is a problem that needs to be addressed in a lawsuit, the courts can seek those documents and have the doctor produce them. Health-insurance-related issues may require the release of medical documentation. Additionally, doctors have the right to release information about the patient in the case that the patient plans to cause harm to other people.
Are all patients protected under doctor-patient confidentiality clauses?
In all cases, adults are protected by these laws. Usually, minors and their parents are both privy to the medical records of the minor. Once a person turns 18, he or she has the option to sign documents to allow his or her parents to look at medical records, but, as an adult, he or she does not have to allow access to any other party except those he or she deems necessary. For example, if an 18-year-old boy suffers from herpes, the doctor should not report that to his family without permission. If a 17-year-old minor suffers from herpes, the doctor may speak to the minor's parents in most cases and discuss treatment options.
These are just a few things to think about when it comes to doctor-patient confidentiality. If your doctor betrays your trust, an attorney in the Toledo area can help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Source: Nov. 30, -0001