September 02, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy CURES Patient Privacy
The California Medical Association (CMA), joined by the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association (AMA) and state medical societies, has filed a letter in support of a petition before the California Supreme Court to review a Court of Appeal opinion finding that patients have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their prescription data.
In Lewis v. Superior Court (Medical Board of California), the Court of Appeal held that a law allowing law enforcement and other government agencies broad access to the state’s electronic prescription drug monitoring program’s database did not violate patients' privacy rights. Physicians are flagging the ruling as a violation of confidentiality in the physician-patient relationship.
“The duty of physicians to protect patient privacy lies at the very core of the medical profession,” the CMA and AMA letter states. “Confidentiality is one of the most enduring ethical tenets in the practice of medicine, and is essential to the patient-physician relationship. It is the cornerstone of the patient’s trust [and is key to] successful medical information gathering for accurate diagnosis and treatment, an effective physician-patient relationship, good medicine and quality care.”
The letter also points to the importance of this case because it deals both with fundamental elements of patient care and with the issue of personal privacy in the digital era.
Contact: CMA's Center for Legal Affairs, (800) 786-4262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.