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Waiving the physician-patient privilege may be possible

When your loved one passes away because of negligence or malicious intent by another person, you want to make sure that justice is served. Part of your case may be to get compensated for funeral expenses, medical bills and other financial losses your family is facing due to the loss of this person's life.

While you may have all the right intentions, one thing that can sometimes hinder your case is the right to your loved one's medical documents. In a wrongful death case, having the medical information to prove that the other party had a responsibility to your loved one is key to success. When you can't show this, you may not be able to prove your case.

Physician-patient privilege is intended to keep patients' documents private from those who they don't want to see their medical history. However, some people believe that on death, these documents should be made public. That's not always what happens, and sometimes, only the next of kin or surviving spouse can have access to these documents. In fact, sometimes, it can hinder your case, because the documents may only be released to specific parties and not your attorney.

How can you get around this? When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you're seeking medical records for litigation, and that is usually enough to make sure you can access the records needed. The physician-patient privilege may be waived for the specific circumstances of the case, since the case is about the patient's ill health and eventual death that has to be proven by the evidence in those documents. Our website has more on this sensitive matter, so you can learn about your options.

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