The medical record as legal document: When can the patient dictate the content? An ethics case from the Department of Neurology

Robert Accordino, Nicholas Kopple-Perry, Nada Gligorov, Stephen Krieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Confidentiality of health information is increasingly relevant in the era of electronic medical records. We discuss the case of a hospitalized patient who requested a neurology consultation for an episode he described as an "LSD-like" (Lysergic acid diethylamide) flashback. The patient expressed concern that the episode was a residual effect of past drug use, but subsequently requested that his drug use not be documented. Involved in a custody battle, he feared that if his records were released to the court he could lose custody of his children. Ethical concerns arose with regards to the physician's competing obligations with a duty to record information accurately and honestly, respect patient autonomy, and maintain patient confidentiality. We discuss the decision of the team to document the patient's drug use by arguing that the obligation to maintain confidentiality did not supersede the primary role of the medical record as a complete and accurate account, which cannot be altered at a patient's behest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-56
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Ethics
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Keywords

  • Medical documentation
  • Medical record
  • Patient confidentiality
  • Personal health information disclosure
  • Tarasoff case

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