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there is no law that specifically prohibits a doctor from speaking to the family members of the deceased patient. That being said, there is a restriction inwhat can be said under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
in short, a covered entity cannot disclose protected health information (PHI) to non-authorized parties.
HHS Regulations as Amended January 2013: General Rules for Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information: Deceased Individuals - § 164.502(f), Standard: deceased individuals. A covered entity must comply with the requirements of this subpart with respect to the protected health information of a deceased individual for a period of 50 years following the death of the individual.
The personal representative of the estate, as well as any specifically designated individuals in the patient's files, can have access to that patients records.
But the right of privacy to those records does survive death, and unfortunately that limits what a doctor can say and disclose to family members (or anyone else).
So it is not illegal, unethical, or immoral for a doctor to talk to a patient's family after the patient's death, but there is a limitation on what that doctor can say. The doctor can't reveal anything pertaining to the patient's medical records or treatment unless the recipient of that information is an authorized individual (specifically authorized by the patient, or a personal representative).
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