Maintaining the confidentiality of a patient’s medical aspects is absolutely necessary and it is not only part of a doctor’s professional conduct but also a Constitutional obligation.
Hyderabad: Spelling out that the patient’s information registered with the medical institutions is highly ‘private’ on top of, sensitive, the Andhra Pradesh State Consumer Redressal Commission has warned doctors and hospitals to not share patient information unless required by a court of law.
In addition to the word of warning, the forum asserted that if they go against the said order, then they would be running into a risk of legal consequences.
The warning surfaced as a result of a home loan case against State Bank of India (SBI). According to a recent report by Deccan Chronicle, the case of G Vijaya Kumari, the applicant, was against SBI Life Insurance Company Ltd. Her husband had taken Rs 22 lakh as housing loan from the bank. The insured covered the loan with a policy under SBI RIN Raksha Home Loan Scheme. The policy was valid for a period of 186 months, starting from 2012.
After the death of the insured in 2014 due to cancer, his wife approached the Bank requesting to waive the home loan covered by the insurance policy. However, based on an alleged report given by an investigator, who had been engaged by the SBI Insurance Ltd, the Bank denied the claim stating that the couple suppressed the fact of the husband’s pre-existing ailment in a bid to obtain the said loan.
On this, the two-member bench presided by honourable Justice Noushad Ali and comprising P. Mutyala Naidu noted,
“The insured on his part appeared before a panel, including a doctor of the Bank, who had then issued a certificate about his good health, and the claim of the Bank and Insurance Company on the ground of suppression of material facts by the insured of his pre-existing illness does not have any substantial legal proof.”
Observing that the investigator somehow got the information of the insured patient’s ailment, the bench pointed out that the insurance companies invariably engage their so-called investigators, who in-turn approach doctors and hospitals for records. Taking the aforesaid into notice, it said,
“It is trite to note that of late, almost every doctor/hospital is observing a professional obligation and the mandate of Constitution with impunity. They are sharing medical records of patients routinely with insurance companies, without realising consequences…Doctors/hospitals should treat medical records and patient information as highly private and sensitive, to maintain doctor-patient confidentiality, and should adhere to regulations of Indian Medical Council of India.”
The Commission stated that maintaining the confidentiality of a patient’s medical aspects is absolutely necessary and it is not only part of a doctor’s professional conduct but also a Constitutional obligation.
In the end, the commission held the applicant liable for the claim.