Doctors are not automatically required to treat or provide care to everyone they meet. In order for there to be a duty of a doctor or other medical professional to provide care to a patient, there must generally exist some for of voluntary agreement between the doctor and the patient. The agreement itself will establish the doctor-patient relationship, and from that point forward the doctor has a duty of care to the patient. Under certain circumstances, however, a doctor may have an obligation to provide treatment even if there is no actual voluntary agreement. In cases where a person is not conscious, a doctor-patient relationship is formed where family members of the patient retain the doctor’s services. In addition, among other exceptions, hospitals accepting certain kinds of federal funds may be required to provide care to indigent patients under certain circumstances, and hospital emergency rooms may be required to provide care to anyone coming in with a life-threatening condition.
Every doctor-patient relationship carries with it a duty on the part of the doctor or other health provider to keep patient information private and refrain from disclosing it to third parties without your consent. A doctor or medical professional who breaches this duty by disclosing confidential information, including your medical records, may be liable to you for damages for any injury (including embarrassment) you suffer from the disclosure. The duty of confidentiality may not be broken absent authorization from you to release your records to a designated third party.
There are a number of exceptions to this rule whereby a health care provider can release your records without liability. Among these are the following common scenarios:
- Health insurance companies normally require patients to waive the right to confidentiality of information when submitting a claim for medical coverage.
- If a patient sues a medical professional for malpractice, the patient’s medical records and information may be released and used in connection with any litigation.
- In certain situations, medical professionals are required to report certain kinds of patient information to authorities, such as certain communicable viruses or diseases.
- Doctors generally must report suspected incidents involving evidence of child abuse or gunshot wounds.
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In all matters involving personal injury it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and file a lawsuit prior to the deadline imposed by the Statute of Limitations. If you or a loved one is a victim of personal injuries, call Hamstead, Williams & Shook P.L.L.C. now at 888 – 298 – 2529. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a Contingent Fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don’t delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.