Patient privacy court ruling would interfere with care
Physicians are petitioning a state supreme court to hear a previously decided case that holds patient care in the balance by making patients’ personal prescription data too widely available.
In Lewis v. Superior Court (Medical Board of California), a lower court ruling grants law enforcement and other government employees broad access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program’s database. Physicians are flagging the ruling as a violation of confidentiality in the physician-patient relationship.
“The duty of physicians to protect patient privacy lies at the very core of the medical profession,” the Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies and the California Medical Association stated in a petition submitted to the California Supreme Court last week.
“Confidentiality is one of the most enduring ethical tenets in the practice of medicine, and is essential to the patient-physician relationship,” the petition continues. “It is the cornerstone of the patient’s trust [and is key to] successful medical information gathering for accurate diagnosis and treatment, an effective physician-patient relationship, good medicine and quality care.”
The petition also points to the importance of this case because it deals both with fundamental elements of patient care and with the issue of personal privacy in the digital era.