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Medical malpractice suit can follow breach of confidentiality

Relationships between doctors and patients often involve sensitive and personal information, and for that reason, there are laws in New York and other states to enforce doctor-patient confidentiality. A doctor could be sued for medical malpractice if he or she breaches that confidentiality. The confidential relationship starts when a doctor takes on a patient, and it lasts forever -- even after the patient's death. However, exceptions exist.

A doctor may not divulge to a third party anything that the patient revealed or any conversations that they had. Also protected are conclusions or opinions the physician formed after a medical examination or assessment. Furthermore, medical history, laboratory reports, X-rays, pre-existing conditions and other medical history information will be confidential. The confidentiality extends to members of the doctor's medical staff.

When any information about a patient is disclosed or shared with a third party without the consent of the patient, it constitutes a breach of confidentiality. However, disclosures without consent are allowed under certain circumstances. These include information required by state health officials, or when medical records form part of lawsuits. In such cases, the information can only be provided pursuant to a court order.

State law protects doctor-patient confidentiality, and if unauthorized disclosure results in any damage caused to the patient, the patient might have grounds to sue the doctor. An experienced New York medical malpractice attorney can assess the circumstances and the viability of a legal claim. The lawyer can determine whether the patient has a cause of action to pursue a civil lawsuit for invasion of privacy, malpractice or other torts.

Source: FindLaw, "Breaches of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality", May 5, 2018

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