Doctor Patient Privilege Lawyers

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What is a Doctor-Patient Privilege?

A doctor-patient privilege ensures that as a patient, your medical history, conditions, and related information cannot be divulged without your permission. Patients should be able to tell their doctors private and sensitive information knowing that it will not be made public. Even a doctor's observations and opinions are covered by the doctor-patient privilege.

Note that the doctor-patient privilege is primarily a creature of state law; states will vary on the coverage of the privilege between doctors and patients. The information provided here is only a general guideline and in no way covers every state. Federal law recognizes no such privilege, despite the common usage of the privilege in virtually all other jurisdictions. In the absence of a statute (law) recognizing the doctor-patient privilege, many federal courts will decline to invoke such a privilege.

What Is Covered By The Privilege?

The purpose of the privilege is to ensure that patients can trust doctors enough to give the doctors enough information to treat the patient. Thus, all medical reports, tests, X-Rays, drug prescriptions and any other medical information collected about the patient or medical advice given by the doctor. Even a doctor’s observations and opinions are covered by the doctor-patient privilege.

The doctor-patient privilege, with the exceptions listed below, applies to all third parties outside the relationship. This includes family members of the doctor and patient. 

Are There Any Exceptions to This Privilege?

Despite the need to preserve the confidentiality of medical information, there are many instances where the doctor-patient privilege does not apply. Here are some examples:

Is It A Violation Of the Privilege If My Doctor Alludes To My Case Without Identifying Me?

If the doctor gives away enough information to identify the patient, the doctor is still guilty of violating the privilege, even if the patient’s identity is not specifically identified. Patient privacy is becoming an ethnic issue for doctors as social media such as Facebook and blogging become more popular.

What Can I Do if My Doctor Violates the Doctor-Patient Privilege?

If you believe that your doctor has violated the privilege, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A medical malpractice attorney can tell you more about your rights, defenses, and the complicated legal system.

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Last Modified: 08-22-2012 02:28 PM PDT

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