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Can i sue my Physiatrist for breach of confidentiality. I'm 22 and he discussed my treatment with my mother, without consent.

Los Angeles, CA |

A month ago I went to a physiatrist for my Anxiety. He put me on medication and I was out the door within 45 minutes. I felt comfortable going by him because he told me everything would be confidential, including my treatment. My mom is completely against pharmaceuticals because of risk of dependency. Last week she found a receipt in my room for my medication. She called my psychiatrist, he confirmed I was on the medication and discussed my dosage. He then told her I'm not allowed to go back to him. I guess my mom calling him had given him a "headache." I feel that he did indeed breach confidentiality. I have since moved out and I'm living paycheck to paycheck. I have been completely depressed and this has made my anxiety so bad I can barely eat. I feel totally betrayed by my psychiatrist.

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Attorney answers 3


As I read your facts, your confidentiality was breached by the discovery of your pills by your mom.

In all events, your depression and anxiety clearly pre-dated the discussion between your mother and the doctor. You didn't move out because of what the doctor said; you may have moved out because your mom discovered your pills and was strident with you about her views on that issue.

Your issues are not really with your former physician. Seek another physician; take responsibility for your role in what your mother knows about your medical and mental health care; and move forward with the real issues that are underlying your depression and anxiety. Projecting your problems onto your former health care provider will not serve your recovery or your efforts to obtain and retain effective care.

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My mother never found the pills, she found the receipt in the Trash. So theoretically speaking, anyone who finds a receipt for my medication can pose as my mother and verify my medication/ dosage with my psychiatrist?

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall


There isn't much use in "theoretically speaking." Your confidential information was breached (discovered) by your mother in your home as a consequence of your conduct. No one posed as your mother. Your mother called the physician to complain and protest, not to verify the contents of the trash in her home. You are experiencing misdirected anger.


Typically the mere fact that he discussed something with your mother doesn't necessarilly give a right to sue. Any provider is permitted to disclose to an individual involved in the care of another information that they feel is appropriate, there is a great deal of discretion about this. In this case, it is unfortunate that your mother fooled your psychiatrist into disclosing this information, by making him think that she was mroe involved in your care than she evidently was.

Still, you are in California, and I am not licensed there. It is possible that there are different rules, so if you have a question, you can see a local attorney.

Good Luck!

I am licensed in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and therefore any discussion of issues related to other states must considered within that context. In addition, my comments are not intended to create a legal representation but merely to respond to the limited facts presented by the question. Any opinion herein is not meant as a precise statement of legal rights or as a recommendation of any particular course of action. A more complete legal review can be obtained through local counsel.


I feel that he should neither have discussed your case with your mother, nor quit as your doctor. You appear to have grounds to complain to the Medical Board of California, but your damages do not appear large enough to justify anything more than small claims court, if that, depending on certain rules relating to notice for medical malpractice--hardly worth it.