How Confidential Are Your Medical Records? Connecticut Trial Lawyers Establish New Protections!
Until recently, there was actually little that could be done in the event that your confidential medical records were disclosed to third parties. That changed recently when the Connecticut Supreme Court established new protections against improper disclosure of your records.
Little or No Protections Under Previous LawUntil very recently, there was little or no remedy available to people whose private medical records were negligently handled and improperly disclosed by a medical provider. This changed in January 2018 when the Connecticut Supreme Court recognized for the first time that a legal claim exists protecting a person*s right to keep their medical records confidential. This case provides a great example of how individuals who stand up for their rights - with the help of a strong lawyer advocate - can make the world a safer place for everyone.
The New Cause of Action - Not Possible Without a Willing Plaintiff and a Strong Attorney AdvocateThe case involved a paternity action commenced by the father of the child. The child*s mother instructed her obstetrician not to release her medical records to the father. The father*s attorney issued a subpoena to the obstetrician for the mother*s medical records, and the doctor, without notifying the mother, filing a motion to prevent the disclosure or appearing in court, mailed "all medical records" pertaining to the mother to the defendant*s lawyer. In this case, the mother filed suit against her doctor.
The Court, reversing the lower trial court, acknowledged that *[T]he importance of confidentiality in the physician-patient relationship has been recognized by courts in numerous jurisdictions throughout the country. Courts have repeatedly used the common law to recognize "a patient's valid interest in preserving the confidentiality of medical facts relayed to a physician." Bratt v. International Business Machines Corp., 392 Mass. 508, 522, 467 N.E.2d 126 (1984). "A patient should be entitled to freely disclose his symptoms and condition to his doctor in order to receive proper treatment without fear that those facts may become public property. Only thus can the purpose of the relationship be fulfilled." Hague v. Williams, 37 N.J. 328, 336, 181 A.2d 345 (1962).*
The Court went on to discuss it*s authority to create new causes of action: "An exhaustive search of Connecticut case law reveals no hard and fast test that courts apply when determining whether to recognize new causes of action. We do have the inherent authority, pursuant to the state constitution, to create new causes of action. . . . Moreover, it is beyond dispute that we have the power to recognize new tort causes of action, whether derived from a statutory provision or rooted in the common law." (Citation omitted.) ATC Partnership v. Coats North America Consolidated, Inc., 284 Conn. 537, 552-53, 935 A.2d 115 (2007).* After a lengthy discussion of other state*s that have considered this issue, and the alternative sanctions provided by other state and federal statutes, the Court stated: *We conclude that a duty of confidentiality arises from the physician-patient relationship and that unauthorized disclosure of confidential information obtained in the course of that relationship for the purpose of treatment gives rise to a cause of action sounding in tort against the health care provider, unless the disclosure is otherwise allowed by law.* This case provides a great example of how individuals who stand up for their rights - and with the help of a strong lawyer advocate - can make the world a safer place for everyone.