Maintain confidentiality of patients’ medical status: Delhi HC

Looking at the stigma attached to some serious diseases like HIV/AIDS, the Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Centre and city government to ask all hospitals under their jurisdiction in the national capital, to keep the patients’ medical status confidential.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher said disclosure of medical status or condition of a patient, especially those suffering from AIDS, led these persons to be “treated as lepers” and scaring off people as there is a stigma attached to the ailment.

The court directed the governments to issue a circular to all these hospitals and also seek compliance reports from them to ensure that the directive is adhered to. The court issued the direction and made the observations while hearing the plea of a woman suffering from HIV, whose medical status was publicly displayed on her bed when she was admitted in Guru Teg Bahadur hospital in 2011.

A placard had been displayed above her bed, declaring her medical status as “Sero Positive Bio Hazard”, the plea filed through advocate Ambalika Roy said. The plea also said that such conduct “breached the privacy and confidentiality of the petitioner, which was required to be maintained in relation to her medical condition”. The court had earlier directed the government to sit with the petitioner and other stakeholders, including Medical Council of India, and frame guidelines regarding non- disclosure of medical status of patients.

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