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When testifying in court (as a witness), can you be cross examined about your medical history? If so, would it violate HIPAA?

Roxboro, NC |

I am going to testify at an upcoming family court hearing. I am a witness for the defendent, but am wondering if I will be questioned about my medical history which could make me look like a bad person. My records have not been subpoenaed. I am wondering if during cross examination if being asked about any medical treatment would be a violation of the HIPAA laws, especially since the records have not been subpoenaed. The defendent and I are in a relationship and I know my testimony could prove benefical for his case; however, I am sincerely worried about my medical history being brought up. This pertains to a child custody case.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. HIPPA prevents third parties from releasing your medical information (i.e. doctors, hospitals etc.) It does not violate HIPPA for you to be asked questions about your medical condition and/or history. You may only be required to answer questions that are relevant to the proceedings. If your medical condition/history is relevant you will have to answer, if it isn’t then you won’t. You should speak with the defendant’s lawyer.


  2. This is not a HIPAA issue. It's an issue of relevance and improperly impeaching a witness. I you are a witness for the defendant then discuss this with the attorney.
    HIPAA relates to access to medical records.
    Courts will from time to time order production of records. In my experience the party seeking the records has to demonstrate a valid purpose, any disclosure is first to the judge for an in-camera review, and then the party has to overcome several rules of evidence to bring up any disclosed records.

    mljucmj@gmail.com 703-298-9562, 800-401-1583. Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship.


  3. As the other lawyers correctly explained, HIPAA only applies to third-parties (your employer, health care providers) releasing information about your medical records to other people. If you testify, then you may be compelled to say something about your medical history, although if you have concerns, you may want to talk to the defendant's attorney so that he can be prepared to make the appropriate objections.

    General questions about your medical history are probably off-bounds, unless they go to your bias, truthfulness etc. I don't know the facts of the case, but a judge would probably be very cautious about letting someone question you about your medical history.

    <a href="http://www.chetson.com">Raleigh criminal lawyer</a> Damon Chetson represents people in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, and the rest of Wake County, North Carolina. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as the specific facts may change the potential advice. Consult with a licensed <a href="http://www.chetson.net">Raleigh criminal lawyer</a> or attorney in your jurisdiction about your legal question or problem. For a free consultation about a North Carolina case, call (919) 352-9411 day or night, any day of the week.

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