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Doctor-Patient Privilege in Medical Malpractice Cases

  Alan Fuchsberg  |  February 17, 2016  |  

In general, the privilege of patient confidentiality also referred to a physician- or doctor-patient privilege prevents medical professionals from talking about a patient’s health to other medical providers or the patient’s family unless a waiver is signed.

Sometimes Records Can Be Accessed Despite Doctor-Patient Privilege

When injuries or death case may be caused by medical malpractice, the doctor-patient privilege can be overridden when the records relate to the case. If you’ve lost a loved one, you’ll need to access those medical records if you want to take the medical provider to court for medical malpractice. Your attorney can help you access the records if they’re necessary for your case, particularly if you’ve been appointed as the executor of the estate.

There is a concern that allowing medical records to be opened will violate the deceased’s privacy.  But if that privacy hinders an investigation or the ability to file a lawsuit against physicians, the records should be allowed to be opened in court for the purpose of the case.

Some people believe that a patient’s right to privacy doesn’t end due to death.  Others argue that the privilege should end when a person passes away.  The argument is that there’s no need for those health documents to be private any longer, and no one would be hurt if they were to be public knowledge. For now, they are private and can only be accessed by people who have been given the right or in special circumstances as defined by law.

If You Need to Access Your Loved One’s Medical Records

Normally, doctor-patient privilege provides privacy to patients by only allowing access to medical records by those involved with the patient’s care.  That may be the patient and one’s parents if he or she is under 18, or it could be the patient and his or her physician alone.

If you believe that your loved one suffered injuries or died due to medical malpractice, and you are having trouble accessing their medical records, our New York medical malpractice attorneys can review your case with you.  Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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