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Here's how doctor-patient confidentiality works

When it comes to medical malpractice, you may not consider doctor-patient confidentiality as part of the equation. But actually, when broken, that confidentiality can become the centerpiece of a malpractice claim, or an invasion of privacy claim. To better understand this, let's take a look at doctor-patient confidentiality and see how this principle of the medical world functions.

Doctor-patient confidentiality is a simple premise. It states that the relationship between doctor and patient is sacred, and as such the doctor may not reveal any information relating to the patient, his or her condition, or the medical treatment they seek. Without this confidentiality clause, many people would not seek medical treatment out of fear for the embarrassment they could suffer should their information be leaked to the public.

The confidentiality clause covers an extensive amount of medical information. Personal information is included in the clause, as is any opinion or conclusion that a doctor may make it relation to the patient. Medical records of the patient and any communication between the doctor and the patient are also covered by doctor-patient confidentiality.

The information that is protected by the confidentiality clause can't be released to a third party unless the patient consents to the release, or if some other circumstance forces the release of the information (such as by request of state officials or due to a lawsuit).

Doctor-patient confidentiality lasts for a long time too. Even if the patient moves on to a different doctor, the confidentiality clause is still in effect. In fact, even if the patient dies, doctor-patient confidentiality is still in effect.

Source: FindLaw, "Breaches of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality," Accessed July 29, 2015

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