When you go to the doctor, you have the right to expect him, and his employees, to keep information about you confidential. If he leaks information about your medical condition, it can damage your business, personal, emotional life, and your rela
tionships and standing in the community.
What if an employee of the doctor, or the hospital, leaks confidential information about you? The employer is supposed to take due precautions to see that his employees respect the confidentiality of what goes on in the doctor’s office, or the hospital, and do not “talk out of school.”
They are responsible for their indiscretions, if they do. If your doctor’s secretary tells her husband that you have tuberculosis, and he spreads it around the community, you would sue the doctor.
What if you find out the doctor, or the hospital, took pictures of you, without your consent, while you were undressed, under anesthesia, or in some other embarrassing situation and have shown them at a medical meeting or allowed them to be published? What if they allowed some outsider to watch? All those things would be grounds for a lawsuit.
What if the doctor, or his employee, puts out a story that you have a disease that would expose you to discrimination, ridicule, or contempt in your community? That is known as defamation, and the doctor really has no defense. He is responsible, and you may not even have to show you suffered any actual damages. Like the New Jersey woman with breast cancer, your justifiable apprehension of repercussions is enough to justify an award or settlement.
Outrageous Conduct: Earlier in the blog, it was noted that mere bad manners and crude language do not constitute malpractice, and generally they do not. Probably the most common cause of unsuccessful lawsuits is resentment at unfriendly or unfeeling actions by doctors or nurses. But, there is an exception. If the conduct of the doctor or hospital employee is so outrageous or offensive by normal standards, that it seriously disturbs your peace of mind, and is directed at you or a close relative, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
The Rule Is: What constitutes outrageous behavior depends on the individuals involved in each particular case. However, there is one requirement you must meet. The words or actions must have been deliberate and intentional.