Some relationships are so sensitive that certain information must be kept confidential to facilitate open and honest communication. Some relationships like lawyers to clients, psychologist to patient, priest to layperson and doctor to patient spring to mind. These relationships require a certain level of confidentiality to ensure that the person seeking help can be open and honest about their situation. This puts certain obligations and duties on the doctor or lawyer receiving the information, namely a duty to keep confidential the client’s personal details.
The idea of doctor-patient confidentiality is based on the notion that a person seeking medical assistance should not have to worry about what their doctor will say or do with that information. Essentially, that the paramount goal is to facilitate the healing of people, not to provide police or gossipers with fascinating information. This allows the patient to trust the doctor and for the doctor to focus on helping the patient.
Except in rare situations, this duty requires that the doctor get the patient’s approval before disclosing patient information. This includes everything that a person says to a doctor to obtain medical assistance, like family history, what she was eating or where she was when she got sick. This also extends to the opinions and conclusions that the doctor draws from these facts to make a diagnosis. It further covers any and all observations of the patient, like physical symptoms or such. Finally, it includes all medical records, such as X-rays, reports, blood tests and all other manner of tests.
If you believe that your doctor breached your right to keep your information confidential, then you may want to consult an experienced tort and medical malpractice attorney. These cases intersect between medical malpractice law and tort law. It requires a lawyer and firm experienced in multiple practice areas such that your case is fully considered and prepared. Divulging information to your doctor isn’t like sharing a secret with your high school best friend. This information is serious and deserves to be kept confidential. The law and you should hold your doctor to the highest appropriate standard.