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Is it a HIPPA violation for med info to be in public court records?

Greenville, NC |

There are details of medical info that were used in family court for a custody case. Any one can see my info and my children's? I am appalled. I thought HIPPA protected private medical info. Who is the advocate for the patients rights?

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Attorney answers 3


Court documents are generally public record absent a few exceptions (juvenile delinquency matters, juvenile abuse, neglect and dependency matters). Your attorney (if you had one) could have filed a motion for a protective order to limit discovery and potentially seal that portion of the record. I have attached the relevant statute for your review.

The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship.


There is a HIPAA exception for disclosure in court proceedings in which a covered entity may disclose protected health information in the course of any judicial or administrative proceeding in response to a court order, subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process if certain conditions are met. Generally, as long as you had reasonable notice that the protected health information had been requested (e.g., receipt of a discovery request directed to you), and you did not object to said discloure or a court/tribunal overruled your objection, then the disclosure is permitted.

This information is provided for general purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created with the furnishing of this information. Attorney licensed in North Carolina only.


Either the health care provider's patient advocate office or the privacy officer, or both is the advocate for patient rights in this case.

There are certainly exceptions to the HIPAA Privacy Rule whereby a health care provider can use and disclose protected health information (PHI) with out patient consent; responding to a court order or a subpoena for example.

Review the copy of the Notice of Privacy Practices (NOPP) that you should have received from the health care provider.

If you feel as though your health care provider disclosed your PHI in violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, contact the health care provider's privacy officer and file a complaint.

When you contact the health care provider's privacy officer, request a copy of their accounting of disclosures of your medical record. You will likely have to fill out a form to receive the accounting.

You may also file a complaint with the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights as well. See the link below for more information.

Again, review the NOPP.

The information provided is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.

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