If you have not heard by now, Carolina Panthers' QB Cam Newton is set to have surgery performed by Dr. Robert Anderson on Wednesday March 19, 2014. The Panthers' organization released a statement regarding the surgery approximately forty-five minutes after the news hit the airwaves on Tuesday March 18, 2014 on WFNZ, a CBS sports broadcast network.
At around 3:15 P.M., a caller, identified as "Rick", called into The Drive NC, a show hosted by Marc James. During the call he asked James if he had heard about Newton's surgery that was scheduled for Wednesday. James informed the caller that he had heard nothing.
"Rick" went on to reveal that his wife, who is a nurse, had informed him that Newton was set to have ankle surgery Wednesday afternoon. James inquired as to what doctor would perform the surgery. The caller informed James, that Newton's surgeon would be Dr. Andrews. To which, James responded, "The famous Dr. Andrews?" The caller answered affirmatively.
"Rick" went on to say that he would call back later when his wife arrived home from work. Unwittingly, "Rick", had revealed private medical information about Newton that may have been a violation of H.I.P.A.A (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).
HIPAA (often referred to as "hippa") protects patients' private medical information, and gives patients rights to review medical information and determine who may or may not review said information. Persons working in the medical industry are prohibited from revealing your medical information without expressed written consent unless it is to further your medical treatment.
Pillow talk can get you into trouble
If you have a spouse who works in an industry where confidential information is protected by law, it is better to not discuss the specifics of his/her work with him/her. That way, you will not run the risk of slipping up like "Rick". Although Cam Newton is a public figure, he is protected by HIPAA. The Carolina Panthers are able to reveal Newton's medical information because they have been given express permission to do so.
Undoubtedly, "Rick's" wife did not expect him to reveal what she told him in confidence. Likewise, a patient, no matter how famous, does not expect his medical information to become public knowledge through healthcare providers. "Rick" not only shared he and his spouse's pillow talk, he did so on a syndicated radio show. By revealing something told to him in confidence, "Rick" unknowingly placed his wife's career at risk. His wife also placed her career at risk by revealing this information to her husband.
Even though two become one in marriage, you are not considered "one" when it comes to the specific requirements of your career. Attorneys are prohibited from discussing specific details of clients' cases with spouses just as medical professionals are prohibited from revealing private medical information to their spouses. The first instance is covered by attorney-client privilege and rules of legal ethics; the second is in accordance with federal law.
Hopefully "Rick's" enthusiasm as a sports fan did not cause his wife any issues at her job.
This information was provided for education purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal concern, contact an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.