Face to Face With "It": And Other Neglected Contexts of Health Privacy

Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Anita Allen


University of Pennsylvania Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 07-41, 2007


This paper looks at new cases involving medical privacy and the media.

Policy Relevance

Respecting patient’s privacy should include protection against unauthorized recording of the patient’s image by the media or others.

Main Points

  • Social attitudes to health have changed somewhat, and people today discuss medical problems more openly than in the past.
    • Sharing information about one’s medical problems can be comforting, and can help obtain needed assistance.

  • New laws have been passed to protect the privacy of patient’s medical records.

  • These laws, which protect data, do not alone ensure that patients’ wishes for seclusion or respectful treatment will be heeded.

  • Doctors or emergency crews that photograph, record, or broadcast distressing images of medical patients may face liability for malpractice, the infliction of emotional distress, or other lawsuits.

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