The Premiere Site For Celebrity Plastic Surgery By A Real Plastic Surgeon

I'm a Michigan-based Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who has been featured on Dr. 90210. The info here is my opinion alone and should not be taken as fact or as medical advice. I've not treated any of the celebrities presented here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Breaches of Patient Confidentiality in Donda West Case?

With all the hubbub about Dr. Donda West's plastic surgeon and his background, one important aspect of this whole tragic turn of events has failed to catch the attention of the media: Patient Confidentiality. I've always been taught that government-mandated patient privacy laws prohibit a doctor from giving out a patient's private health information to others without the consent of the patient. Only under certain circumstances are we, as physicians, allowed to release this health information to another person (usually only in emergency situations). So then... Was it lawful for the two plastic surgeons involved with this situation (Dr. Jan Adams and Dr. Andre Aboolian) to discuss Donda West's plastic surgery with the press??? Did Dr. Aboolian break the law by announcing through his publicist that he saw Donda West in consultation for plastic surgery? (click here for link)

As a physician and plastic surgeon, patient confidentiality is of extreme and upmost importance to me and my patients. The fact that these physicians are discussing the tragic details of Dr. Donda West's plastic surgery to the lay media strikes me as self-serving on both counts. With all the horrible accusations being hurled at Dr. Adams, one can see why he would talk with the media as a way to explain and protect himself (who would blame him?). As for Dr. Aboolian, what purpose does it serve (other than self-promotion and publicity) that he release Donda West's personal health information to the public the day after she tragically dies?

These are just some thoughts from an admitted 'non-expert' in patient privacy laws. Any comments would be appreciated.

Thanks for reading.
Michigan-based Plastic Surgeon
Anthony Youn, M.D.


Jen said...

Most definitely they both broke the law. Of course will anything be done with the pt's recent passing? Probably not.

I am scheduled for a procedure in Jan & I really spent a lot of time researching my Dr. to make sure he was legit. Stories like this really shake your faith in Dr.'s.

I visit your blog daily & really enjoy your posts! Your advice is concise and clear.

Dr. Tony Youn said...

Thank you for your nice comments. Best of luck with your surgery in Jan!

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is this kind of breech in HIPPA Compliance is very common where celebrities are concerned. I work in healthcare and in a recent meeting about HIPPA Compliance it was brought up as an example that 17 people in our practice had to be reprimanded for going into a certain Actor’s account after a well publicized accident. The strange thing was out of the 40 people in the room the only one's that had previous knowledge that he was even in our system was the Compliance Manager and a supervisor handling the cases. So in my opinion even bringing up the fact that he was in our system was a breech of the "as little information as necessary to perform your job" rule. (His name was used in the meeting but I do not like breaking HIPPA laws so I won’t use his name) The rules are in place but when it comes to celebrities there is very little compliance from many healthcare providers. I believe that the rules are in place for just these kinds of situations and the rules should be followed and it they aren’t people should be prosecuted. There are very strict rules when dealing with media sources and these Doctors obviously ignored them. The Media has made it ok for people to discuss celebrities business, but when it comes to their medical records I think that is where the line should be very firmly drawn.

Anonymous said...

Dead people have no rights. They can't be libelled and their privacy can't be invaded.

That of course doesn't speak to taste and etiquette. I would think that the surgeons are speaking out [1]to clear up confusion and [2] to point the finger of blame away from themselves.

Anonymous said...

so, dr jan adams is not a board certified plastic surgeon.
he just plays one on tv and in real life!!!????!!!

Anonymous said...

What are the HIPPA rules regarding a person that's no longer alive?

Dr. Rob Oliver said...

I think one of the anon's is right in that HIPPA might not apply in this instance as the person is deceased. It does however, reflect very poorly on the other Dr. she consulted with to have a press release issued about a patient you did not treat.

Dr. Tony Youn said...

I did try to sift through some of the legal mumbo jumbo in the HIPAA document the other night and there did appear to be references as to how the diseased health information can legally be given to morticians in certain circumstances. This makes me think that HIPAA may still apply after death, but I'm still not sure.