Doctor-Patient Privilege and Workers’ Compensation Claims


Doctor-Patient Privilege and Workers’ Compensation Claims

You may have heard about the concept of doctor-patient privilege – it protects the conversations you have with your doctor from disclosure in court or to other people. When you file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits, you lose some of the protections of the doctor-patient relationship.

What Is the Doctor-Patient Privilege?

Usually, your doctor cannot share conversations that you have during appointments with third parties (your employer, your lawyer, unauthorized family members, random people on the street, or courts) unless you give consent. This is called the doctor-patient privilege. If you share a conversation with your doctor with another person, then you cannot claim the privilege for that conversation. This privilege keeps doctors from sharing patients’ private medical information without their patients’ permission.

Does the Privilege Exist During Workers’ Compensation Cases?

When you get injured at work and make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you lose some of the privilege’s protection. Your doctor will have to provide information about your injury to the insurance company and/or the employer on their request. In addition, your doctor may need to provide written reports that disclose conversations with you during appointments to the insurer or employer. These reports may be used at a workers’ compensation hearing before a judge.

The insurance company or employer does not have to get your consent or permission to receive this private medical information. You waive your right to medical confidentiality by filing the workers’ compensation claim. You also waive the doctor-patient privilege to some extent, since your doctor may need to turn over records of conversations with you.

Limits on Disclosure of Medical Information

There are a few limits on disclosure of your medical information during your workers’ compensation case. Your employer and the insurance company cannot give your information to anyone else during the course of your case. They must keep it safe from disclosure to others.

Further, they cannot access any medical information that is not directly related to your current injury or disability without your prior authorization. For example, if you were injured in a separate incident years ago, your doctor should not turn over information about that injury to them without your permission.

Need help protecting your rights during a workers’ compensation case? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.