privacy: the right "to
be let alone,"
to be free form unwarranted publicity,
without having one's name, picture, or private affairs made public or published
against one's will.
DEATH ENDS THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY, BUT NOT CONFIDENTIALITY
a. Privacy, a Personal Right. There is no right to privacy for a dead person.
For example, the executor of an estate contracted with a film studio to make a film
based on the life of the deceased. When the deceased man's brother objected, the
court held that death had ended the individual's right to privacy. Privacy is essentially a
personal right that does not endure after death, unless there is a contract. When the
secretive Greta Garbo, a famous film star of the 1930's, died in 1990, the cause of
death was not released by the press. The actress had stipulated, in writing, prior to
death, that this information not be released.
b. Provider's Duty to Protect Confidential Communications. The right to
privacy, however, should not be confused with the duty of the health care provider to
withhold confidential information obtained in the course of treatment. Death does not
terminate the privileged status of confidential communications (para 3-8).
a. Protects Information Obtained in the Course of Treatment. The
confidentiality of patient information is intended to encourage openness on the part of
the patient and his or her loved ones so that the best diagnosis and treatment can be
provided. Even though some control is necessarily lost when access is given to one's
personal history and physical person, generally some say over information generated
about oneself is retained, at least in diagnostic and therapeutic contexts. For example,
a physician may not grant an insurance company or a prospective employer access to
medical information without the patient's authorization. Confidentiality also respects the
patient's privacy; individuals should not have to reveal the details of their bodily
condition to obtain medical care.
confidentiality: the ethical responsibility of health care providers to maintain the
secrets of their patients, communicated to them or learned from observation,
examination, or conversation, and not to communicate same except to those with
an official need to know.
b. Confidentiality vs Privacy. The terms confidentiality and privacy both
relate to the access others have to protected information. Confidentiality is based on
the professional relationship; privacy is a general right of all. Confidentiality involves
the professional's discretion in not disclosing private information revealed within the
context of the patient-health care provider relationship. Privacy is a personal right. The
professional's respect for the confidentiality of the client upholds the individual's right of
privacy. The distinction between an infringement of confidentiality and an infringement
of privacy has to do with how that protected information was obtained.