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Home > Privacy and Business > Medical Privacy > Exceptions to Medical Privacy > Disclosure to Family

Disclosure to Family

What level of medical information should be shared with the families and loved ones of patients is a difficult question.

If a patient is competent to give it, information should not be shared in the absence of consent. In more difficult situations, however, such as an incapacitation or incompetence, the amount of information that may be shared is hard to determine.

Some states provide that parents acting in the role of caregiver may be given limited information, such as diagnosis, prognosis, and information regarding treatment such as medications.

In this area, health care providers should be given leeway to use their best judgement. Whether a disclosure was appropriate or inappropriate should be determined in light of whether the health care provider acted reasonably considering all the circumstances. No prescriptive law or regulation could anticipate all the circumstances that could arise, and none should try.


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[updated 12/28/00]

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