Introduction:

All information regarding a patient's health condition is private and confidential; patients have the right to decide to whom their personal information is disclosed
Patients must express consent in order for personal medical information to be disclosed to family members
Upon being hospitalized, patients should indicate on a special form to whom the medical staff may disclose information regarding medical care in the event that they lose consciousness


All information regarding a patient's health condition is private and confidential. All patients are entitled to have their medical confidentiality and dignity upheld while undergoing medical treatment. The obligation to maintain patients' medical confidentiality is a central tenet in medicine.

  • Patients must express consent in order for personal medical information to be disclosed to family members. This consent may be explicit or implicit, verbal, written, or expressed through actions.
Example
If a patient arrives to a doctor's visit with a family member who is included in the meeting with the doctor, this is an expression of the patient's consent that the information revealed during the meeting does not have to be kept from that family member.

Who is Eligible?

  • Those accompanying patients, and patients' family members actually have no legal standing defined in the Patient's Rights Law. Nonetheless, the medical staff generally includes family members when caring for their loved ones.
  • Patients have the right to obtain information from the medical record. A patient's family members may obtain information regarding the patient if they have a waiver of medical confidentiality signed by the patient. For more information on this process, see: Obtaining Information from the Medical Record.

How to Claim It?

  • Patients must indicate in written or verbal form (which will then be documented), to whom they will permit the medical staff to disclose medical information regarding the treatment they are undergoing in the event that they lose consciousness.
  • For more information on this process, see: Obtaining Information from the Medical Record.

Disclosing Medical Information to Family Members of an Unconscious Patient

  • All medical facilities should have a form regarding disclosure of information to family members, which is given to the patient upon admission and before any invasive procedures are performed. Patients are to indicate on this form the names of the people to whom medical information may be disclosed.
  • The procedure is that upon admission for hospitalization, or before a procedure where the patient's consciousness is altered (including sedation and general anesthesia), the patient is requested to indicate in written form (or in a verbal message that will then be documented), to whom the medical staff may disclose information regarding the procedure before, during and after it, in the event that the patient loses consciousness.
  • If a patient has not indicated to whom the medical staff may disclose information, information may only be disclosed to first-degree family members.
  • This form does not constitute power of attorney to make medical decisions, nor is it a waiver of medical confidentiality.
  • For more information regarding obtaining information from the medical record, see: Obtaining Information from the Medical Record.

Disclosure of a Minor's Medical Information

Please Note

  • Family members do not have the right by law to be present when doctors do their departmental rounds; therefore the decision regarding approval of family members to be present depends on each medical facility's policies.
  • Generally, family members may talk to a senior physician/department head during hours that are established in advance.
  • Each medical facility's administration is responsible for establishing rules regarding visiting hospitalized patients, including, among other things, procedures regarding the establishment of times to contact the attending physicians in order to obtain information regarding hospitalized patients.

Aid Organizations

  • For a comprehensive categorized listing of healthcare organizations offering assistance and support, click here.

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