As a patient, you require a certain amount of privacy and support from your medical care professional.
Breaches of this trust are serious, and can stem from lack of supervision of medical staff to disregard for the law.
Expectations of privacy
According to FindLaw, worries about doctors telling other parties about their personal information is one reason why many people may hesitate to seek treatment. Either through one-on-one discussions with other people or searching medical records that they have no need to see, personnel can easily breach confidentiality.
Once you visit a medical professional, there is a promise made that he or she will not share any personal information to others about your visit. Doctors sharing your personal information with a third party without your express consent is illegal.
Sharing x-rays or private lab reports is one way a professional breaks this promise. Divulging details of your medical condition online on social media is another example. Any transmission of information either written or digital, along with verbal statements made to third parties, is strictly prohibited. This includes discussions that are overheard by others.
Not only do these actions violate HIPAA, but they also count as an invasion of privacy. A public disclosure of private facts is a suable offense.
If you consent to the sharing of your personal medical history, then there is no breach. However, if you do not, there is no time limit to the length of doctor-patient confidentiality. Even after you pass away, the doctor still must keep your medical history private. There are only a few exception to this rule, such as state health officials requesting information.