Michael H. Bereston, Inc.

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Phone: 410-793-4554

Toll Free: 866-517-4037

How does patient-physician privilege affect lawsuits?

Surgery is complicated. Sometimes doctors make mistakes and sometimes things go wrong. Unfortunately, whenever you go "under the knife," death is a possibility. Litigating wrongful death actions are complicated. They involve complex issues of law. Plus, the primary witness is deceased. You are dealing with a deceased loved one, which brings in complicated emotions and feelings of loss. The entire lawsuit acts as a reminder of your loved one.

Doctor-patient privilege prohibits doctors from disclosing or discussing patient medical records. There is an ongoing debate about whether or not this privilege should extend after death. If it extends after death, then this could complicate your access to these medical records unless your loved one gave you a power of attorney or waives the privilege. This means that the surgical records will likely be sealed by the hospital, especially if something went wrong during surgery.

Most courts allow estates and surviving family members to waive the privilege to access the records. But, you may want the assistance of an attorney because that is not a guarantee that those records will be released to you. Many hospitals and doctors will dispute your request, for obvious reasons. Generally, you can get access once a court orders the hospital to disclose the records. But, this will only come up in the context of litigation. It is possible to access records without a pending lawsuit. However, it is not a guarantee.

If your loved one passed away during surgery, then you may want to contact a medical malpractice lawyer. As discussed above, wrongful death actions are complicated and implicate many different rules and issues. An attorney can help you cut through the red tape to get the answers you deserve. No amount of money can replace your loved one. However, it can help keep your family on its feet as you navigate through this tragedy.

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Office Location

Michael H. Bereston, Inc.
138 Main Street, Suite 200
P.O. Box 2990
Annapolis, MD 21401

Maryland: 410-793-4554
Toll Free: 866-517-4037
Baltimore/Annapolis: 410-269-5011
DC: 202-628-2226
Fax: 410-269-5022

Annapolis Medical Malpractice Office

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