Thursday, March 10, 2011

Class: Medical Halachah - Confidentiality of Patient Information

I am scheduled to teach another class in the Medical Halachah/CME series this Sunday. Our topic will be the Confidentiality of Patient Information. Here are the vignettes I plan to use:

The welfare of society
Albert, a family physician, runs a routine blood test on his 40-year old patient, Jason, and discovers that he is HIV-positive. Albert urges Jason to inform his wife immediately. If Jason is reluctant, is Albert obligated to inform Jason’s wife?

The welfare of the patient
Beth, a pediatrician, suspects that her 14-year old patient, Julie, is engaging in unprotected sex with classmates. Should Beth inform Julie’s parents?

Potential future welfare
Carl, a family physician, knows that his patient, 22-year old James, has a family history of acute depression. James is dating a girl seriously, and Carl knows her family. Is Carl able or obligated to inform the girl, or her parents? Should local laws play a role in his decision?

Preventing violation of Jewish law
Dana, an OB-GYN, is informed by her patient, 25-year old Jane, that she contracted an STD in the course of an extramarital affair. If this is true, Jane’s husband is required by Jewish law to divorce her. Does Dana have an obligation to inform Jane’s husband?


  1. Very apppropriate topic for Parshas Vayikra from what we learn from the first pasuk in Vayikra,as explicated by the Gemara in Yuma
    4b, of not repeating what you are told without permission,except under certain circumstances.

  2. Welfare society-if patient refuses definitely tell-issue of pikuach nefesh.
    Welfare of patient-she is underage.Discuss with her and also to bring in parents who are responsible for her,sensitive area.
    Future-cannot tell girlfriend or family.But recommend to Carl to discuss issue with girlfriend.Recommend psychiatric consult,with all relevant data for both Carl and girlfriend.With proper discussion entire issue can be resolved.He does not have the disorder.
    Adultery-Classic Node Beyudah shut.Is she believed halachically?Would husband believe?
    Great cases.short possible answers.

  3. Hello daat y,

    Thanks for your comments.

    As it turned out, I had far too much material, and the cases had too many intricacies, for one shiur. I broke it into two parts; you can now hear the first part here.