Doctor-Patient Confidentiality and Medical Malpractice

When most people in New Mexico think about medical negligence, they tend to think about surgical errors, a misdiagnosis, medication errors or a birth injury. However, medical malpractice can go well beyond that. In fact, it can involve doctor-patient confidentiality — or at least the breach of that confidentiality.

Doctor-patient confidentiality is pretty simple. It’s based upon the concept that the relationship between a patient and a doctor is sacred. For that reason, the doctor is not permitted to reveal any patient information whatsoever without first asking and receiving the patient’s permission. If this type of confidently condition was not in place, many patients would not seek medical treatment due to embarrassment. Others would not disclose all the necessary information for a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis, which could delay proper treatment.

Doctor-patient confidentiality includes many things. It extends to everything from whether a particular person is actually a doctor’s patient and what type of condition he or she is being treated for to any communication that is shared between the doctor and patient. Doctor-patient confidentiality also covers pre-existing medical conditions, lab reports and X-rays. In addition, the duty of confidentiality lasts forever, even after the patient dies.

A breach of doctor-patient confidentially occurs when a patient’s private records are released to a third-party without the patient’s consent. While there are specific instances when information can be disclosed without consent, such as a subpoena from a court, it is generally not permitted. If an individual in New Mexico feels that his or her rights as a patient have been violated, a medical malpractice attorney can help assess the circumstances and offer advice as to the viability of instituting a civil claim for monetary damages.

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