Every doctor-patient relationship carries with it a duty on the part of the doctor or other health provider to keep patient information private and refrain from disclosing it to third parties without your consent. A doctor or medical professional who breaches this duty by disclosing confidential information, including your medical records, may be liable to you for damages for any injury (including embarrassment) you suffer from the disclosure. The duty of confidentiality may not be broken absent authorization from you to release your records to a designated third party.
There are a number of exceptions to this rule whereby a health care provider can release your records without liability. Among these are the following common scenarios:
- Health insurance companies normally require patients to waive the right to confidentiality of information when submitting a claim for medical coverage.
- If a patient sues a medical professional for malpractice, the patient's medical records and information may be released and used in connection with any litigation.
- In certain situations, medical professionals are required to report certain kinds of patient information to authorities, such as certain communicable viruses or diseases.
- Doctors generally must report suspected incidents involving evidence of child abuse or gunshot wounds.