Disclosure to a spouse

July 25, 2003

Because she was too upset to do it herself, a patient asked her husband to call my office to schedule a repeat test. In the process, the husband asked why a second test was necessary. What should we have told him?

Q:Because she was too upset to do it herself, a patient asked her husband to call my office to schedule a repeat test. In the process, the husband asked why a second test was necessary. What should we have told him?

A: As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't give any protected health information to a family member unless the patient has given her permission beforehand. But, in the absence of specific guidance from the patient, you can use your professional judgment to determine whether the patient would agree to or object to the disclosure.