Can a hospital release my medical information without my consent?

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Can a hospital release my medical information without my consent?

I was in the hospital for a week for a bad back injury. My mother visited and asked the charge nurse about my condition.. The charge nurse gave her my chart with all my medical information in it. I am 28 years old. I thought that was illegal.

Asked on June 17, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

At the very least this must be against hospital policy. Additionally, under HIPPA, if there is someone who acts as your personal representative they usually have the right to obtain and amend your record on your behalf. A personal representative generally is a person who has the right to make health care decisions on your behalf. A parent of a minor child is typically such a representative however this right ends when the child turns 18. So unless you gave express permission for your mother to have access to your records, your chart should not have been disclosed to her.

As for your remedy for this breach, the fact is that HIPPA does not create a federal right for a patient to sue for privacy violations. In other words, the patient's only remedy under federal law is to file a complaint with the appropriate entity. In this case, the FL Medical Quality Assurance Board, which has the authority to prosecute HIPPA violations. Such action can result in civil, criminal and disciplinary penalties.

However, while the patient does not have authority to file a lawsuit under federal law HIPPA violations may be grounds for a lawsuit under state law since the federal statute imposes a "duty of care" standard. Without more details its hard to say for sure. You should consult with a malpractice attorney if you suffered some harm as a result of this disclosure.


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