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Dr Wu
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Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1835
Experience:  Board certified in family medicine.
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A former friend, who is a pschiatrist, tells acquaintances that I am Bipolar.

Customer Question

What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

I recently parted with a friend, who is a a PGY3 psychiatric resident. The parting was quite bad. I suffer from depression, which she knows as we were friends. However, I have learned she is telling acquaintances that I am Bipolar, which I am not nor have been ever been diagnosed with. I believe she may have included in her stories to said acquaintances about my depression diagnosis, and how she believes I have manic issues which lead to her conclusion that I suffer from Bipolar disorder. The former seems like libel or slander issue while the latter appears to be a violation of my privacy. Please advise. Should I see a lawyer or should I speak with her clerkship director?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr Wu replied 7 years ago.



Thank you for using Justanswer.


Your psychiatrist friend is still new in the field of medicine and probably doesn't realize the gravity of what she has done. Legally speaking, since she is technically not your psychiatrist, she did not have the legal obligation to protect your privacy. What she did what hurtful and unprofessional, but not illegal.


Speaking with her clerkship director is not a bad idea. He/she needs to educate the residents so they do not make the same mistake again. Making psychiatric diagnosis in a casual manner can significantly damage another person's reputation.


I hope this is helpful.



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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I understand that...however, she IS a an MD and has had already educated about the HIPPA laws (I was a former medical student and even I was required to attend HIPPA training). Even as a med student we are told that we are not to discuss patients in public (ie elevator) because that violates HIPPA. I understand that Drs try to protect one another. She tells alot of people which affects me socially and potentially professionally as many of them are professionals in various fields. At the very least she is accusing me of something I DO NOT have and this also seems like a slander/libel issue.
Expert:  Dr Wu replied 7 years ago.

I totally agree with you. What she did was wrong and unprofessional. Unfortunately this happens very often. She should be told not to do this, but to prosecute her in a court of law based on HIPAA violation is difficult because you are not her patient. She has no medical record of you.


Regarding the slander issue, I suppose you can try that angle. However, I do think that your idea of speaking to her clerkship director is a great one. Afterwards you can consider other options.

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