Visitor Question

Confidentiality of Medical Information?

Submitted By: Pebbles (New York)

I went to the hospital with dizzy spells. They ran a blood test then came back and told me I was pregnant in front of a room full of people, including a few I did not want to know. They also left me with an IV in my arm pinned to the wall, and when I pushed the button to use the bathroom 40 minutes went by and no one came. I had to take the IV out myself to go to the bathroom. I ended up making a mess and I am very embarrassed by it all.

My question is: Is it illegal for a doctor in the hospital to say what’s wrong with you in front of a bunch of people? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Pebbles,

Although not entirely illegal, the announcement of your pregnancy in front of a roomful of strangers comes pretty close.

There is no doubt the announcement of your pregnancy in a public forum was entirely inappropriate.

The excuse the hospital may use is their lack of medical privilege with you. That means you weren’t a patient.

The controlling regulations for medical violations are the HIPAA Laws – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA, Public Law 104-191). HIPAA laws were enacted in 1996 and are composed of strict guidelines in the release of medical information to 3rd parties by a medical provider.

You can access HIPAA on Google or other search engines. Although the HIPAA laws may put you to sleep you may be able to compare your experience to the some of the HIPAA regulations.

The good thing about HIPAA is a person doesn’t have to show how they were damaged as a result of a breach of the HIPAA regulations.

It is a “strict liability” act which makes the mere violation of one of its sections actionable.

If you don’t feel like reading the HIPAA regulations you can always contact a personal injury attorney. Most will not charge for an initial consultation.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: December 8, 2011

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