Doctor-patient confidentiality: What happens if you breach it?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2022 | Professional License Issues |

When a patient visits your practice, they hope to receive the best possible care so they can get back on their feet and resume their day-to-day life. Additionally, they expect critical information they shared with you, or your staff, regarding their health will not end up in the hands of a third party. This is known as doctor-patient confidentiality

Confidentiality between the doctor and the patient is critical for proper care. Without full disclosure of the patient’s condition, it would be almost impossible for the doctor to make a proper diagnosis. But what happens when the doctor violates doctor-patient confidentiality?

What amounts to a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality?

Breach of doctor-patient confidentiality happens when the doctor shares the patient’s medical information with a third party without the knowledge and approval of the patient in question. Any information exchanged between the patient and the doctor must stay within the confines of the two parties unless the patient consents otherwise, or if such information is necessary for litigating a legal matter.  

Confidential information that the doctor cannot release to third parties include:

  • Treatment-related information such as the patient’s name, medical tests, appointments, procedures, diagnosis as well as treatment plans
  • The patient’s medical records including their medical history, diagnostics images and laboratory test results
  • Doctor’s opinions or conclusions regarding the patient’s condition
  • Any information shared between the patient and the doctor’s staff

What happens when the doctor breaches the confidentiality code?

The doctor may face a number of consequences if it is established that they have beached the doctor-patient confidentiality. Here are some of these consequences:

  • A legal action that may result in heavy penalties such as fines
  • Disciplinary action from the doctor’s employer
  • A censure or a suspension of the doctor’s practice license

Disclosing a patient’s private or confidential information can ruin your reputation and jeopardize your career. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and, by extension, your career if you have been accused of breaching doctor-patient confidentiality.

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