Experts & Confidentiality – Pettus v. Cole – Cal Ct. Appeal 1996

In California Psychiatric Experts Are Under the Same Privilege/Confidentiality Obligations  as are Treating Psychiatrists

California Appellate Decision Regarding Privilege/Confidentiality Duties of Non-Treating, Psychiatric Experts: see PETTUS V. COLE, 57 Cal.Rptr.2d 46 (1996)
Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, California

from the Headnotes:

“Two psychiatrists violated the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act(Civ. Code, S 56 et seq.) when they disclosed the details of their evaluations of an employee who sought stress-related disability leave to his supervisors at work without his written authorization. Civ. Code, S 56.10, subd. (c)(8)(B), limits permissible disclosure to a description of any “functional limitations” that may have entitled the employee to leave work, and also explicitly prohibits disclosure of “medical cause.” These psychiatrists described in detail the employee’s hostility toward the company and a coworker, his drinking habits, and other details about his personal life, disclosures which went well beyond a description of “functional limitations.”

“(3) Employer and Employee S 7–Contracts of Employment–Medical Care– Unauthorized Disclosure of Medical Information to Patient’s Employer– Employee’s “Patient” Status.

An employee who was evaluated by two psychiatrists in connection with his request for stress-related disability leave was a “patient” within the meaning of the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (Civ. Code, S 56 et seq.) and thus was protected by the act’s provisions.”