What to do about a breach of patient confidentiality?

UPDATED: Dec 16, 2013

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What to do about a breach of patient confidentiality?

I am 20 years old and I was at the hospital today for kidney pain. I gave them my history, including that I had recently had an abortion therefore I would probably still have a positive pregnancy test so they needed to do an ultrasound. I told the nurse that was taking the information that my aunt who I lived with couldn’t know anything about it but I don’t think she put a note in the computer or anything. While I was at the hospital, they let my aunt in the room without my permission but I did not kick her out because I thought they would ask her to leave before discussing medical information. However, the doctor walked right in and said in front of my aunt that my pregnancy test was positive because of the medical abortion being recent.

Asked on December 16, 2013 under Malpractice Law, Connecticut


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, this is one of the sticky situations. HIPAA is an interesting and complicated area of law. You gave your aunt technnical permission to know some medical information by allowing her to stay in the room when the doctor walked in and in general being there. The nurse could be held liable but certainly not the doctor. If you feel this strongly about it, you will need to consult an attorney who handles medical privacy laws and see if this is something that would be worthwhile pursuing.

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