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Opinion 5.09 - Confidentiality: Industry-Employed Physicians and Independent Medical Examiners

Where a physician’s services are limited to performing an isolated assessment of an individual’s health or disability for an employer, business, or insurer, the information obtained by the physician as a result of such examinations is confidential and should not be communicated to a third party without the individual’s prior written consent, unless required by law. If the individual authorized the release of medical information to an employer or a potential employer, the physician should release only that information which is reasonably relevant to the employer’s decision regarding that individual’s ability to perform the work required by the job.

When a physician renders treatment to an employee with a work-related illness or injury, the release of medical information to the employer as to the treatment provided may be subject to the provisions of worker’s compensation laws. The physician must comply with the requirements of such laws, if applicable. However, the physician may not otherwise discuss the employee’s health condition with the employer without the employee’s consent or, in the event of the employee’s incapacity, the appropriate proxy’s consent.

Whenever statistical information about employees’ health is released, all employee identities should be deleted. (IV)

Issued July 1983; Updated June 1994; updated June 1996; updated December 1999 based on the report "Patient-Physician Relationship in the Context of Work-Related and Independent Medical Examinations," adopted June 1999