Recently there was a clip that went viral all over the US. The clip shows a nurse who was working at the University of Utah being violently detained by a police officer.
The story was that the officer wanted to take a blood sample from an unconscious man. The nurse refused to do it because she knew that blood samples are considered confidential. Because of this the officer detained her. More facts continue to surface about the story but we will leave uncovering and examining the facts to others. We would like to look at some of the laws regarding this and other medical cases.
Just as it is illegal for lawyers to question someone opposing them without that person’s lawyer present, it also illegal for lawyers to question an opposing persons doctor without that person’s lawyer present as well.
Consider this; suppose a person, John Smith, is a victim of medical malpractice from doctor A. Smith then goes to doctor B who says that doctor A did indeed cause the problems. Smith decides to bring a lawsuit against doctor A. Come to find out, doctor A and B are both insured by the same organization. Doctor A’s lawyer then goes to doctor B with the insurance adjuster and essentially blackmails the doctor to change the medical report under threat of raising their insurance costs.
This may seem not only confusing, but also unrealistic. As crazy as this may seem, it actually happened on multiple occasions including Sorensen v. Barbuto and Wilson v. IHC. That is why it is illegal.
When does confidentiality apply?
Physicians have an obligation of confidentiality to the patient. Most people may know this but it is sometimes unclear when that obligation is no longer applicable. Even when using a doctor as a witness or if a doctor is involved in a law suit, that doctor can never reveal any information concerning patients without the patients consent.
Know your rights when it comes to medical issues and if you don’t or if you feel that your rights may have been violated, feel free to talk to us.