When my husband I decided to start a business, we didn't think about the legal aspects of doing so. We didn't realize that purchasing business insurance, getting building permits and making investments all required some type of legal advice. But after speaking to a close friend, who also happens to own a small business, we contacted a business attorney. Now, we have the legal smarts to make the best decisions for our business, as well as the legal representation in case something happens to our company. I hope that you find my blog helpful and informative for your own business. It's a great resource for finding the legal advice, resources and guidance you need to get your company up and running.
When you have a medical condition that requires ongoing medication and treatment, you generally have a right to expect that information to stay confidential -- between you, your healthcare providers, and your pharmacist. However, that doesn't always happen. When your right to privacy is destroyed, it can be incredibly damaging.
Is there anything you can do? Here's what you should know.
What Is Confidential Health Information and How Can It Be Violated?
Confidential health information is any information you have a right to expect others to share only if they have proper authorization. For example, your doctor can share your prescription needs and other important health information, like your known drug allergies, with your pharmacist. That's something you authorize when you tell your doctor where to transmit your prescription orders.
However, you certainly wouldn't expect your pharmacist to tell your neighbors or your mailman about your medication or the conditions you have, right? That would be a clear breach of the confidentiality you expect and would intrude on your privacy.
Unfortunately, that's exactly the sort of thing that can happen. For example, roughly 6,000 individuals in Ohio recently found that their pharmacy had essentially done just that. The retail pharmacy, CVS, mailed out some letters to participants in a drug assistance program for those with a positive HIV status in an envelope and letter so poorly designed that the information about their condition was easily viewable by anyone handling the mail.
What Are the Possible Effects of Such a Breach?
Naturally, an incident like what happened in Ohio isn't the only way that confidential healthcare information can be breached. A nurse could gossip about your weight on Facebook, a doctor could tell your boss about your alcoholism, or a pharmacy tech could tell your ex-spouse about your anxiety medication. Those things could potentially affect hurt your mental health, endanger your livelihood, damage a custody case with your ex, and hurt your reputation by exposing you to mockery.
In the case of the HIV program participants, for example, some of those exposed fear that the breach of confidentiality will cause them a social stigma -- especially those who live in small communities where the postman knows everyone. They even fear that their family members will suffer social consequences as a result of their condition, and some have already experienced significant emotional trauma and physical reactions from stress over the issue.
What Can You Do If Your Privacy Has Been Violated Similarly?
If you've suffered significant distress, a job loss, or some other serious problem because a healthcare provider violated your trust and exposed your confidential medical information to others -- even accidentally -- that's a form of negligence. You have a right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for breach of privacy and can ask for compensation. Talk to a personal injury attorney today about the possibility of a case.