Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 17 Issue 4 (October/December 1999), Pages 407-551

Patient consent for release of sensitive information from their medical records: an exploratory study (pages 445-454)


The disclosure of sensitive information concerning mental health, drug and alcohol use, and communicable diseases requires express patient consent under federal and state laws. This paper presents the results of a retrospective medical record abstraction of hospital consent‐to‐treatment and release‐of‐information forms, examining whether the forms are present in the records, and, if so, whether they are signed by patients. The results suggest that patients who have sensitive information in their medical records or pay out of pocket for their care are less likely to consent to disclosure of their records. We discuss the implications of these results and recommend further research to understand patients' perceptions of medical confidentiality and the processes used for securing consent to hospital treatment. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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