Can Medical Malpractice Be Confidential?

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 2:42pm by

Atlantic City Personal Injury Attorneys Explore Confidentiality

According to a ruling last month by the New Jersey Supreme Court, hospitals have a legal right to some confidentiality in the event of a medical malpractice lawsuit. A 4-3 court decision upheld the Patient Safety Act of 2004, which encouraged hospitals to learn from their mistakes in order to prevent them from happening again. Therefore, they are not required to release information on their own internal examination of any potential malpractice.

Why is Medical Malpractice Confidentiality Allowed?

The reason behind the decision is to protect persons who may be at fault for a malpractice incident. Proponents of the Patient Safety Act argue that confidentiality allows the person who made the mistake to speak freely about his or her errors. They claim that the threat of impending punishment is likely to cause medical professional to cover their mistakes, which will not allow a hospital to learn from a grievous error.

As with many state-level Supreme Court case results, this case could influence similar rulings in other states. If you live in New Jersey or in a state with a similar confidentiality ruling in place, then you should ask a lawyer to find out what information is still available to you.

What Can I Do if a Hospital Claims Confidentiality?

Despite this element of confidentiality, hospitals must release some information in the event of a malpractice suit, such as medical or procedural information. Additionally, there is still the chance that the at-fault hospital employee, or anyone else involved in the internal confidential investigations, will have to testify under oath at a trial. However, this can require compelling them to do so, as it may not be in the hospital’s best interest to testify.

Patients who sustain injuries in hospitals need a knowledgeable malpractice lawyer who CAN build a strong case for medical negligence, even with this ruling in place. It takes time to develop a medical malpractice case, as the lawyer for the injured patient must prove that:

  1. An official doctor-patient relationship existed between the physician and the patient
  2. The doctor made an error
  3. The patient suffered undue harm
  4. The doctor’s error was the main cause of the patient’s harm

If you or someone you know has sustained an injury due to medical malpractice, an experienced Atlantic City injury attorney can help get compensation for any proven negligence. To learn about you or your family’s legal rights, contact our personal injury firm today.

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