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Maverick
Maverick, Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 5800
Experience:  20 years professional experience
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I am a private investigator in NC and have a case whereas my

Customer Question

I am a private investigator in NC and have a case whereas my clients wife was a nurse at a practice with whom my client was also his patient and his wife was this doctors nurse. In 2012 my client confronted the doctor and his wife. Shortly thereafter my clients wife was assigned to a different doctor but the affair continued. The wife came home advised my client Dr. S would no longer see him as a patient and he was getting a different doctor in the practice. Noone from that family internal medicine office talked with my client at all about changing him to another positon. The doctor in question performed a complete physical prior to the comfrontation. My client subsequently had a physical with his new doctor assigned. WE now know that affair continued in that office for two more years. The doctor has since left and gone to a specialty practice and my wife has left that practice also. My client has now left that practice as a patient as he is so embarrassed and humiliated. My client believes the practice should be held accountable. He is now seeing a psychologist and is so stressed he is on anti depressant meds. I believe there is a privacy violation as well as hippa. What grounds do you think he has in filing a lawsuit against the practice? Thanks Pat
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  khagihara replied 1 year ago.

I don't think there is a reason he will file a lawsuit. Lawsuit is not appropriate.

Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.

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1. Need some clarification please. Can you identify each person you are talking about as follows:

I am the PI = Person A

My client = Person B

etc...

This will allow us to better understand your question and then assist you. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Really.........that a doctor that owned an office with several others would not have a hippa/privacy violation within that practice? How so and I see you are personal injury....what do you know about privacy violations?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Really.........that a doctor that owned an office with several others would not have a hippa/privacy violation within that practice? How so and I see you are personal injury....what do you know about privacy violations?

I am the PI inquring.

Client is the patient of the doctor in question as well as the nurse for this doctor is my clients wife. He performed a physical on my client as a doctor/patient relationship while having a sexual relationship with his nurse my clients wife.

Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.

Pat:

Okay that helps....this is what I understand:

Your client is the patient of the doctor

Your client's wife is a nurse that works for the doctor

The doctor had a sexual relationship with the nurse/wife

Q1. I believe there is a privacy violation as well as hippa.

As far as HIPAA violations go, you can report the matter to OCR for prosecution. See this link. You would need facts that would establish something along these lines for what you have described:

1. Releasing information to an undesignated party - only the exact person listed on the authorization form may receive patient information.

2. Telling friends or relatives about patients;

3. Discussing private health information in public areas of the office;

4. Discussing private health information over the phone in a public area;

5. Not logging off your computer or a computer system that contains private health information;

6. HIPAA regulations for "need to know" include: a nurse should not have access to private health information for patients that are not in her unit.

HIPAA regulates the use, transfer, and disclosure of identifiable health information. Not sure if your client gave the doctor permission to release information to wife/nurse when filling out the HIPAA notice and release form.

Privacy violation:

To prove this he would have to show facts to support an intentional interference with your client's interest in solitude or seclusion, either as to his person or as to his private affairs. Invasion of privacy by intrusion does not depend upon any publicity given to the person whose interest is invaded or to his affairs. To be actionable, the prying or intrusion into the plaintiff’s private affairs must be of a type which is offensive to a reasonable person.

Q2. What grounds do you think he has in filing a lawsuit against the practice?

The decisions of persons closely associated with a patient sometimes may impact on the health care provided to a patient. As such, these individuals play an important role in the fiduciary relationship between a physician and his patient. Therefore, the physician should maintain the same professional boundaries as he would with a patient. Physicians should refrain from sexual relationships with a patient's spouse as is the case here. If a physician engages in this type of intimate relationship he may be found to have committed professional misconduct. Your cleint can file a complaint with your state's medical board as a first option. These types of civil cases are more actionable when a pyschiatrict is involved since the patient is seeking mental health treatment as opposed to treatment for a physical ailment. However, the following factors may come into play:

  • the length and intensity of the professional relationship;
  • the degree of emotional dependence the individual associated with the patient has on the physician; and
  • the degree to which the patient is reliant on the person closely associated with them.

So, your client may want to consider a civil breach of fiduciary duty suit against the doctor and the office.