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What do I need to prove a violation of dr/patient privacy?

San Mateo, CA |

I live in a small town. My doctor told my sister that he suspected I had a specific medical condition. I have substantial damages if I can prove there was a breach. Obviously, these breach(es) didn't happen in my presence, though my sister recently told me about them. Is hearsay enough to make a (malpractice) case against the doctor? My sister gave me emails she sent to others divulging this diagnosis but doesn't explicitly say the source. Plus the "diagnosis" was never made because it wasn't accurate and turned out to be something pretty different and less prejudicial. I also have emails my sister sent to the doctor asking for referrals/info for doctors to help my "condition" (not specified) and the doctor was always vague in his responses & followed up via phone. Can I prove the breach?

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Attorney answers 5


Hearsay is a very well defined legal term that is often misunderstood by the nonlawyer. Statements made by a doctor, directly to a third person, regarding your private medical information, may not be hearsay when used to prove the doctor made the statements as the doctor would be the party opponent. So such testimony is evidence and can be used in a breach of duty, breach of implied covenants claim arising from the unauthorized disclosures. That said there may be legitimate reasons the doctor conveyed the information which could be an affirmative defense. You should contact a medical malpractice attorney.

This answer is to a very general question, and is only applicable to the question, applying California law. Legal issues apply state specific laws and analysis, if you find this answer and are not in the state of California a lawyer in your state should be consulted. This answer is made as a public service. The answer is not intended or otherwise constitute legal advice, and is not intended to, or create an attorney-client relationship.


Your specific facts would require an in person consultation with a lawyer. Contact one in your area.



What kinds of lawyer would be qualified to evaluate? Since it's not actually a medical injury, should I look for something outside of Personal Injury attorneys?


There is no private right of action under HIPAA. You can report this doctor to the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Medical Board of California, and if they want, they will investigate and take action against him. For a regular invasion of privacy lawsuit, you should consult with a health law attorney, and he/she can advise you if there are other causes of action you can recover for as well. What needs to be proven and if you have enough evidence is something for the lawyer to decide.

We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.


No private rt to sue under HIPAA, but a local lawyer can investigate IOP remedy.


You cannot sue under HIPAA, but you can sue under the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. A Los Angeles privacy law firm can help guide you further.

Rabeh M. A. Soofi, Attorney
SOOFI | Legal Counsel
5670 Wilshire Blvd. – 18th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(213) 632-9390
(213) 986-3450 (fax) (email)

*** ATTORNEY ADVERTISING MATERIAL *** I am providing you with general comments, not legal advice. Nothing in this answer creates an attorney-client relationship nor constitutes legal advice, as I do not know the facts of your case well enough to be able to guide you, nor am I making any promises about the outcome of your case, or any guarantees about my capabilities, skill level, or predicted success. If you would like to retain me to provide you with legal advice, please contact me and we can discuss the engagement.

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