Business privacy laws

Does patient-doctor confidentiality apply in my situation?

I am 23. I used marijuana before shortly before I got pregnant. When I found out, I quit immediately. I tested positive for THC when I came in for my first visit and spoke to the counselor and doctor about it and it was established that I am no longer using. For my 3rd visit, I had a new doctor and she brought it up with my mom in the room. She said that I would have to go to a specialist because I tested positive, when my previous doctor (owner of the practice) determined it was not necessary. I did not want my mother to know about me testing positive for THC. She is now threatening to kick me out because of this. Does patient-doctor confidentiality apply at this point? What can I do?

Nathan’s Answer

HIPAA requires written consent. However, the doctor brought it up to YOU and not to a third party, even if third party was there. Also, third party was presumably there at your behest. Theoretically, you have a case, but it would probably not be worth pursuing. HIPAA does not have a private right of action. In other words, the health provider may be fined. You would thus be suing for California causes of action related to privacy. Your case does not engender strong sympathies as you have probably guessed by now. It ultimately may be best to focus on repairing relations with mom if her threat to kick you out is sincere. A mediator may be effective in patching up the relationship if this is a huge concern for you, especially since she is not only your mother, but likely your landlord as well. Contact an attorney-mediator for an assessment.

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