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Negative Yelp Reviews Lead to Doctors Revealing Patient Information

In our day and age, word of mouth has immeasurable reach. This is because news, reviews, and criticism never just pass from our mouths but also through our fingers as we text, post, and review to our friends and to strangers on public websites. Yelp is just one of the critic forums on which a city’s restaurants, bars, public spaces, and doctor’s offices are constantly reviewed by patrons or aspiring food critics. Because our cities can be vast, looking for a service or a place to patronize can be difficult at times, especially when we do not have trustworthy guidance from friends and family.

Use of Yelp to Review Doctors, Dentists, and Other Medical Professionals

Finding reputable businesses and service providers becomes more difficult when it is not just your night at stake, but also your health. Many turn to the review websites in order to determine who would be the best doctor, dentist, or ophthalmologist in their proximity and price range. We judge based on the reviews and stars, and the more positive reviews and five-star ratings, the more likely we are to visit that doctor. However, the more negative reviews there are for a practice, the more that practice is likely to suffer. This gives major incentive for owners of these practices to debunk bad reviews and give their sides of a lopsided negative review. However, in doing so, especially when the medical practice does not have a PR practice associated with it, patient confidentiality can become compromised, leaving doctors opened up to lawsuits.

Doctor-Patient Confidentiality: HIPAA and Maryland State Law

Doctor-patient confidentiality is protected by federal and state laws. The federal law is known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (known as HIPAA), and makes it illegal for doctors to disclose any patient’s health record without permission. Maryland has its own doctor-patient confidentiality law that requires doctors to maintain health records as confidential records.

Maryland’s Confidentiality Laws: When a Patient Gives Authorization for Disclosure

The person of interest within the medical health records may give permission to the doctor to disclose his or her information as well as the length of time and the limitations for such disclosure. Disclosure can also be limited to just the relevant medical information that is within the records. For example, if a patient’s medical history surrounding a physiological order is pertinent to a lawsuit, the patient’s mental health record may be shielded from this disclosure, especially when it is unrelated to the lawsuit itself.

Maryland’s Confidentiality Laws: Where Disclosure is Permitted Without Authorization

In addition, there may be some circumstances in which disclosure is permitted when the person of interest does not give authorization for disclosure. For example, this may be necessary when there is an emergency situation and the patient may need to be treated by someone outside of his or her authorized disclosure network, or when the information may help to save the patient or limit harm to others. Also, disclosure without permission may take place when a child has been neglected or abused, and that information may be needed by the State when assessing the fitness of a parent or the environment the child is living in. Finally, medical professionals may be able to disclose to close family members and other close relations the status of a patient who may be hospitalized due to illness or injury.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

Doctor-patient confidentiality is at the center of trust between a doctor and patient. Disclosures of your medical records without your authorization are a violation of federal and state law, and you should consult with an attorney regarding your patient rights. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.