Breach of Confidentiality

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Breach of Confidentiality

I was employed in the medical field, I was recently terminated due to Breach of patient confindentiality. The patient in question was in a round about way a family member. Somehow our compliance officer was told that I breached confidentiality and it was investigated. Investigation concluded that “so and so” stated that I told them something of the patients medical condition that I had learned through my family not through my job and I was still let go. Is it really breach if the information I shared was info learned by family not in any relation to my job?

Asked on June 16, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a written agreement defining patient confidentiality and its requirements? If so, the written agreement will control--some confidentiality agreements specificy that is ok to divulge information learned in other ways, some do not.

If there is no specific confidentiality agreement, is there a general set of business policies or employee handbook that sets out the policy? If so, look to that for a guide.

However, even if you can establish that you did not technically breach confidentiality, that may not help you. Generally speaking, if you do not have an employment contract (including being covered by a collective bargaining or union agreement), employers may fire people for any non-discriminatory reason. If your employer feels  that you are a bad risk for them, then even if you did not breach a confidentiality term, if you also do not have any written agreement protecting your employment, you may be let go.


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