What constitutes a breach of patient confidentiality?

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What constitutes a breach of patient confidentiality?

I signed up to an online therapy site. After realizing the therapist that was assigned to me was not up to my standards, I asked for my money back. They then told me they would review my conversation (which I had only in their chat room) they would then decide if it was inappropriate and give me my money back if they felt it was fit for a refund. I’m pretty sure a third party reading my conversation with a therapist is a violation of doctor patient confidentiality. When I brought that up she said it was fine because she was the first therapist I spoke to. Regardless of whether or not I spoke to her, she was not the one treating me and I’m sure this is wrong.

Asked on December 8, 2014 under Malpractice Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A breach of patient confidentiality occurs if there is an unauthorized disclosure of a confidential communication in the course of the patient/doctor relationship.

Was this a confidential communication since it occurred in a chat room where others could view your online communication?  Assuming that it was anonymous until you spoke with the doctor and provided your name and other personal information, then the disclosure to another may have breached confidentiality.

You could sue for invasion of privacy for a breach of patient confidentiality. 


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