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Court determines disclosure of HIV status is medical malpractice

Connecticut patients who are HIV-positive may be interested to learn about a New Jersey case that involved a physician who disclosed a patient's HIV status to a third party without the patient's consent. The patient claimed that the physician's disclosure violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The plaintiff was reportedly being treated for acute kidney failure. During a consultation in the plaintiff's hospital room, the physician allegedly disclosed the patient's HIV status while a third party was in the room. The patient claimed that they did not give the physician consent to discuss this medical condition in the presence of the third party. In addition to arguing that the physician violated HIPPA, the complaint also asserted that medical malpractice had occurred due to improper disclosure, harmful public disclosure of private facts and violation of the AIDS Assistance Act.

The defendant physician and the defendant hospital moved to have the complaint dismissed, arguing that the one-year statute of limitations on defamation claims had already passed. However, the court ultimately found that the two-year statute of limitations was applicable to this case due to the violation of the AIDS Assistance Act and for medical malpractice. Essentially, the court found that medical malpractice did occur due to the physician's breach of duty to maintain the patient's confidentiality, which deviated from the standard of care.

Unless a patient gives a doctor or hospital permission to disclose a medical condition to another person, the doctor cannot discuss that particular medical condition in the presence of others. If the doctor does violate HIPPA or other laws that protect confidentiality, that doctor and the hospital that employs the doctor could be held liable for any harm that could result. An attorney could help a harmed patient file a medical malpractice claim against the parties that breached the patient's confidentiality.

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Tooher Wocl & Leydon LLC is a law firm experienced in handling wrongful death, medical malpractice, auto accidents, fall down claims, nursing home negligence and abuse, car crash and motor vehicle collision lawsuits. The personal injury trial lawyers handle cases throughout Fairfield County. If you have been seriously injured in Stamford, Norwalk, Fairfield, Bridgeport, or anywhere in Connecticut, please call one of our litigation attorneys at 203-517-0456, or email the firm to schedule a free consultation.

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