Whether someone has a health issue which requires medical attention or is going to the doctor for their annual check-up, anything that is discussed with their physician has to be kept between them and their health care provider. Legally all physicians are required to uphold a doctor-patient confidentiality agreement, which is based around the concept that patients should never be concerned about seeking medical treatment out of fear that their private medical information will be disclosed to others without consent. A person’s health is a personal issue, particularly if they have specific health issues they would NOT feel comfortable discussing with anyone else. If a patient discovers the information they shared with their physician was mishandled or shared without their consent, this is a breach of the doctor-patient confidentiality agreement, and they may be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against that health care provider.

 

 

Once a doctor-patient relationship has been established, the physician CANNOT divulge any medical info without the consent of the patient. This is because the more information the physician has about the patient, the better they will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and provide the best possible care. If a patient is no longer being treated by the physician, the duty of confidentiality does not end there. It continues for as long as the patient lives, and even continues after the patient’s death.

 

When an alleged breach is the focal point of a lawsuit, there is an implied consent moving forward. If a patient files a personal injury claim, this may waive their right to confidentiality. In addition, if a family member or friend attends an appointment with the patient, they will likely be required to provide relevant information during testimony. Although it is unlikely that a patient’s health care professional will be able to share any of their medical information with an interested party without their consent, there are some exceptions that would allow the physician to divulge patient information, including the following:

 

 

There are sometimes where a physician inadvertently discloses patient information. For example, a physician may discuss case details with another health care provider for counsel. However, if this conversation takes place in a hallway or on an elevator, anywhere others can easily hear the conversation, this could qualify as an inadvertent breach because anytime a physician wants to discuss details of a case with a colleague, they should always have those conversations in a private.

 

It is highly recommended that patients who wish to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against their health care provider consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. A breach of a Doctor-Patient confidentiality agreement is a violation of your rights, and we will hold the negligent party liable for any injuries or emotional distress. Protecting your rights is our top priority. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer can thoroughly review the case and recommend the best legal course of action. To schedule a free consultation, call us today!

 

On October 1st, in the Stiner v. Amazon, Inc case the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Amazon can’t be held liable for the death of a teenager from caffeine powder sold by one of its vendors claiming that “Amazon isn’t a supplier per se under the state’s product liability law because they couldn’t possibly have control over the product. Under the claim that since Amazon never had clear possession of the caffeine powder and never actually touched the product, Judge Judith French declared they could not be held accountable.

Tenkoris LLC, a third-party vendor on Amazon, did NOT participate in a “fulfillment by Amazon” program in which Amazon stores the vendor’s product, then packages and ships it to buyers. However, in a California appellate case decision in August the court found that Amazon could be strictly liable for an exploding battery. In that case, the vendor did participate in the “fulfillment by Amazon” program.

In the Ohio case, Amazon never had possession or control of the product, “Hard Rhino Pure Caffeine Powder.” Tenkoris had sold the product through a company named “TheBulkSource” with an agreement signed by Tenkoris stating that the company was obligated to “source, sell, fulfill, ship and deliver” the product to the customer.

After searching on Amazon using the term “pre-workout Logan Stiner, age 18 and his friend purchased the “Hard Rhino powder”. Stiner died ingesting the product. After Logan’s death, his father filed a lawsuit in Lorain County against Amazon, its affiliated companies, K.K., Tenkoris, a Chinese company that made the powder, and a company that imported the powder to the United States. All the parties from the case except Amazon were dismissed.

The plaintiff, Stiner’s father, had cited the Ohio Products Liability Act. The law makes a supplier liable for a defective product when it “sells, distributes, leases, prepares, blends, packages, labels or otherwise participates in the placing of a product in the stream of commerce.” Amazon requested summary judgment from the trial court, maintaining that it was not liable for Logan’s death under any of the 12 legal arguments Stiner presented. The trial court agreed and granted Amazon a favorable summary judgment.

Stiner also urged the Court to consider the “policy objectives” of Ohio’s product liability law, noting that the Court in prior cases adopted the view that the “burden of accidental injuries caused by products intended for consumption be placed on those who market them,” and that common-law product liability principles should shift the “costs of injuries away from consumers.” The Court stated that given the “clear statement of legislative intent” from the act, the law does not allow it to consider Stiner’s policy argument.

“Based on the understanding that placing a product in the stream of commerce requires some act of control over the product, we conclude that Amazon should NOT be held liable as a supplier under the Ohio Products Liability Act,” the Ohio Supreme Court said. The phrase “otherwise participates” must be read in conjunction with the list that preceded it. The activities on the list all involve some act of control over a product or preparation of a product for use or consumption. Amazon never had physical possession or control of the caffeine powder that led to a Lorain County teen’s death, so the company cannot be held liable for the substance’s purchase from a vendor through Amazon’s website.

 

If you have questions about product liability, contact us for a free and thorough assessment of your product before you use or produce anything.