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Doctor-patient confidentiality and patient rights

Medical malpractice can come in a few different forms, one of which is when a doctor breaches doctor-patient confidentiality. Doctor-patient confidentiality exists to help patients keep their medical health to themselves; there's no reason for others to know about it unless it's for medical purposes or unless the patient wants that person to know about the condition.

The idea behind doctor-patient confidentiality is that patients can go to a doctor without the fear of his or her condition being disclosed to others. For instance, consider a patient who has HIV. The patient may not want to let one's family know, as he or she has not yet come up with a way to discuss it. If a doctor leaks that information to the family, there could be a backlash against the patient and the medical facility. The doctor can only release the information if the information is necessary in a lawsuit or if the patient may cause harm to others with the condition (and plans to do so).

When a doctor breaches doctor-patient confidentiality rules, it means that patient's information has been released without his or her expressed permission. Patient confidentiality is protected by state law, so the victim of the breach can pursue a lawsuit against the medical provider.

As a patient, know that the doctor-patient confidentiality you benefit from doesn't run out just because you switch doctors. The duty to protect your medical history is still there, even if you pass away. If you know your rights have been violated, your attorney can help you build a medical malpractice case that will get you the compensation and justice you require.

Source: FindLaw, "Breaches of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality," accessed Dec. 01, 2015

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