[ Thursday, February 07, 2008 ]


Physician confidentiality in Utah: From BNA (subscription required): "Utah's health care fiduciary duty of confidentiality precludes ex parte communications between a treating physician and counsel opposing a patient in a personal injury action, the Utah Supreme Court held Feb. 1 (Sorensen v. Barbuto, Utah, No. 20060816, 2/1/08)."

Not exactly HIPAA, but in Utah, a physician has a state-law requirement to keep patient information confidential. If the patient engages in a lawsuit that brings his medical condition into issue, that confidentiality is waived; however, it's only waived with respect to the actual medical condition that's at issue in the lawsuit, and only with respect to actual proceedings in the lawsuit.

The plaintiff was injured in a car wreck and sued the driver. The doctor was called by the driver to testify, which he did. However, during a break in the trial, the doctor had an "ex parte" conversation (meaning the other side to the litigation didn't get to take part, there was no court reporter, etc.) with defense counsel, apparently talking about the plaintiff's medical information (I don't think they were talking about the weather).

The doctor could discuss the information with opposing counsel, but only in connection with an official part of the litigation (a deposition, at trial, etc.).

Jeff [10:43 AM]

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