Physicians may obtain personal information about patients outside an ongoing patient-physician relationship. For example, physicians may assess an individual’s health or disability on behalf of an employer, insurer, or other third party. Or they may obtain information in providing care specifically for a work-related illness or injury. In all these situations, physicians have a responsibility to protect the confidentiality of patient information.
When conducting third-party assessments or treating work-related medical conditions, physicians may disclose information to a third party:
- With written or documented consent of the individual (or authorized surrogate).
- As required by law, including workmen’s compensation law where applicable.
- When disclosing information to third parties, physicians should:
- Restrict disclosure to the minimum necessary information for the intended purpose.
- Ensure that individually identifying information is removed before releasing aggregate data or statistical health information about the pertinent population.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: IV
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