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Court holds that disclosures without consent are malpractice

Medical malpractice in Oklahoma may take many forms, including disclosing confidential medical information about a patient without his or her consent. In a case in New Jersey, the court looked at whether or not the disclosure of confidential medical information to a third party by a doctor without a patient’s consent was medical malpractice.

In the case, a man who was HIV-positive was receiving treatment for kidney failure from a nephrologist. The doctor disclosed the man’s HIV-status to a third party who was in the room without the patient’s consent. The man originally filed a lawsuit claiming that the doctor violated HIPAA, but he amended his complaint because there isn’t a private cause of action under HIPAA.

In his amended complaint, the man included three claims, including medical malpractice, violations of the AIDS Assistance Act and invasion of privacy by the disclosure of facts. The defendant moved for the man’s case to be dismissed, arguing that the proper statute of limitations should be the same one-year deadline that is used for defamation claims in New Jersey. The court disagreed, holding that the disclosure of the man’s information deviated from the standard of care and that it constituted medical malpractice, meaning that the longer two-year statute of limitations applied.

Doctors owe a duty to provide the same type of care with the same degree of skill as other similarly situated doctors would reasonably provide in their areas. If a doctor deviates from the standard of care and a patient is harmed as a result of the medical error, the patient might want to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer. The lawyer may assess the facts of the case and give an honest evaluation of whether or not valid grounds for medical malpractice claims exist.