Today, medical secrecy is a medical, legal, and socio-ethical concept, which is a prohibition for a medical professional to disclose information to a third party about a patient’s health status.
The doctor should also not inform other persons about the results of the examination and even about the fact of a person seeking medical help.
What is the responsibility of the physician for disclosing medical confidentiality? Under what article can he be punished for disclosing medical confidentiality?
Who is allowed to disclose medical confidentiality without patient permission?
In Art. 13 of the Federal Law No. 323-ФЗ “On the Principles of Health Protection” from
- If a person is in such a state that he himself cannot express his will, and next to him there are no his legal representatives (for example, a person in a coma, lost consciousness, etc.).
- If there is a threat of the spread of an infectious disease that a person suffers from or there is a possibility of mass poisoning or damage to people
- If a medical institution receives a request from law enforcement agencies or from the investigation, inquiry or court in connection with the conduct of operational-search measures, the investigation.
- If medical care is provided to a minor. In this case, the doctor has the right to disclose information about the state of health of such a patient to his parents or legal representatives.
- If the medical workers have every reason to believe that the patient admitted to the hospital was harmed as a result of some kind of illegal actions. In this regard, medical professionals should notify law enforcement authorities about the patient who enrolled to them.
- If an accident at work is under investigation or the causes of an occupational disease are established.
- For accounting and control of patients in the social insurance of patients.
- If a military-medical examination is carried out at the obligatory request of the military commissariat or personnel service of federal executive bodies.
Disclosure of information that constitutes medical confidentiality to third parties is allowed only with the written consent of the patient.
Can a medical professional disclose medical secrets to a patient if he understands that it will be better for the patient?
No, he can not. According to the laws of the Russian Federation, if a patient does not want anyone to find out about his diagnosis, then he has the right to do so.
Even if it would seem to the doctor that it would be better for the relatives to find out about the patient’s diagnosis, he still has no right to inform them about the health status of their loved one.
Situations can be different. Most often, people are afraid to notify relatives about terrible diagnoses, such as cancer. It seems to them that nothing can be done anymore, that it remains only to wait for everything to end.
However, the doctor assures the patient that something else can be done. And if at that moment he tells a relative of the diagnosis without the patient’s consent, he will violate the Hippocratic oath, which will put himself under the article.
What is the doctor’s responsibility for disclosing medical confidentiality in 2019?
Taking into account the damage caused to the patient, the doctor or other responsible employee of the medical organization is responsible for the disclosure of medical secrecy:
- disciplinary responsibility – A medical officer who violated the Hippocratic Oath can be reprimanded or the head of the clinic / hospital signs an order for his dismissal;
- civil liability – occurs if the actions of the health worker caused the patient moral harm. Such responsibility is established only on the basis of a court decision;
- administrative responsibility – occurs according to art.
What threatens the doctor disclosure of medical secrecy?
For unlawful disclosure of medical secrecy, even if it is one person, the health worker may face criminal liability.
What is the punishment for disclosing medical secrecy under the Criminal Code? Disclosure of medical secrecy: article of the Criminal Code
According to paragraph 2 of Art. 137 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, a medical officer who has made public data about the patient’s health, his diagnosis without his consent, may be brought to criminal responsibility.
The sanction of the article provides for such punishment:
- a fine of 100–300 thousand rubles;
- deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities for a period of 2-5 years;
- forced labor for up to 4 years;
- arrest for up to 6 months;
- imprisonment for up to 4 years.
How to prove the fact of disclosure of medical secrecy?
Unfortunately, in our country, the medical staff regularly violates medical confidentiality: doctors discuss the patient’s diagnosis among themselves, the medical staff communicates in the corridor about the patient, the registry officer sends the data allegedly to the patient’s relatives, although by law it is forbidden to do so.
In order to prove the fact of disclosure of medical secrecy, a person must collect evidence. The evidence may be:
- witness’s testimonies;
- audio recording;
If a person has evidence in his hands, then this is almost a 100% guarantee of winning the case.. Then he will be able to file a lawsuit in court for moral damages, as well as to punish the health worker who violated medical confidentiality.
Where to go if the doctor violated medical confidentiality?
For violation of medical confidentiality, the patient may contact the following authorities:
- write a complaint to the head doctor of the hospital / clinic where a particular health worker works;
- file a lawsuit in court if a person wants to receive compensation for moral damage received after the disclosure of secrets regarding his state of health;
- write a statement to the police so that law enforcement officers initiate a criminal case under art. 137 of the Criminal Code and punished pseudo-doctors to the fullest extent of the law.
Obligations to keep medical confidentiality occur only among doctors?
No, the authors of this phrase have misled people. Medical secrets must be kept not only by doctors, but also by other medical workers who work with patients:
- junior medical staff;
- psychologists and others
Also, medical secrets must be kept by persons who have nothing to do with medicine, but they are associated with the patient.
For example, a lawyer working in the clinic, should not disclose information about the patients of this clinic; Trainees doing practical work in medical institutions should also not disclose any information about the state of patients’ health or other information about them.
How to write a complaint to a doctor who revealed a medical secret
If a patient has caught a doctor or other medical professional in disclosing medical secrets, then the first instance where he should apply is to write a complaint against the employee to the head physician.
A document is drawn up in an arbitrary form, but there is an approximate structure for drafting a complaint:
- in the upper right corner are the data of the addressee: F. I. O. the chief physician. Under these data the data of the applicant is indicated: F. I. O., address of residence, telephone number;
- the name of the document – the word “COMPLAINT” is written in the center;
- The complaint’s text – the complainant clearly, without deviations and lyrics, describes the situation he faced. After he expresses his position on the wrongful actions of a particular health care provider, he must indicate his requirements. For example, he may request the chief doctor to bring the offender to disciplinary responsibility;
- applications (if any);
- signature of the applicant and the date of the document.
A sample writing of a complaint about the disclosure of medical confidentiality is presented below:
To the head physician of 5 city polyclinic of Omsk
From Evgeny Stanislavovich Lokhmachev, residing at:
Omsk, st. District, 17/47, tel. 8 (916) 3325587
I make a complaint to the family doctor Yulia Stanislavovna Grigorieva. The grounds for the complaint were the following circumstances:
- Conduct an inspection of the unlawfulness of the actions of the family doctor Grigorieva Yu. S.
- Take disciplinary measures against the doctor Grigorieva Yu. S.
If the head doctor did not respond to the complaint or his answer did not satisfy the applicant, then he can safely submit an application further: submit a statement to the police, the Ministry of Health or the court.
Situation 1. In Crimea, a sentence was imposed on a medical worker who divulged the HIV status of his student, a schoolboy. The confidential information about the disease of a 9-year-old boy was revealed by the medical officer to the parents of the boy’s classmates. According to the boy’s mother, from that very moment her son began to spread rot, children were humiliated, the teachers gave bad grades. The court fined the woman and imposed a ban on her to practice medicine for 1 year.
Situation 2. A narcologist at a private clinic in St. Petersburg issued a certificate to his friend about the diagnosis of an outsider, who was at the clinic where the narcologist worked, was registered. In this case, no one asked the consent of the person whose surname was indicated in the certificate. It turns out that this certificate was used by a third person as evidence in court, allegedly to inform the judge that the parents of a patient registered in the narcological office do not cope with their parental duties. Naturally, the actions of the doctor in this case are illegal. An administrative case was filed against the medical specialist under the article on disclosure of information with limited access (art.
Situation 3. In Tyumen, a woman who works as a maid at a hotel wrote a statement to the prosecutor’s office at a midwife at a polyclinic. 2 days before the incident, the entire hotel team underwent a medical examination in one clinic. On the day of receiving the sanitary books before all came the hotel cleaner. It was her midwife and passed sanknizhki all other hotel workers. Moreover, the health worker told in detail which of the employees was healthy, and who had any diseases. As a result, the entire hotel staff learned about the maid’s diagnosis. The one who was indignant and dissatisfied with the behavior of the midwife of the polyclinic wrote a statement to the prosecutor’s office about the disclosure of medical secrets. The case was brought to court. The health worker was found guilty under art.
In Art. 23 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation it is written that every citizen has the right to personal, family secrets. This also includes the preservation of medical secrecy.
Responsibility for the disclosure of medical confidentiality is provided for in the Administrative Code, Labor and Criminal Codes of the Russian Federation. A physician must understand that any transfer of information about a patient without his consent can cost him dearly.
If a patient sues a health worker, then not only a substantial fine, but also imprisonment (a particular type of punishment is determined on the basis of the misdemeanor of the health worker, non-pecuniary damage caused to the patient as a result of disclosing secrets regarding his health, etc.) .