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A 74-year-old male asked:

If a hospital pt has suicidal ideation & is on good terms with other family members, would someone in the family normally be informed of the problem?

5 doctor answers10 doctors weighed in
Dr. Johanna Fricke
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 50 years experience
In the U.S., doctors: & hospital personnel cannot divulge or release information to family members without written permission from the patient. Check on the Health Information Privacy laws in Australia.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff
Psychiatry 18 years experience
In the US, this wld: Not occur without the patients written consent to disclose psychiatric information. In Australia, the laws may be different.
Dr. Anthony Vita
Specializes in Psychiatry
Not in United States: In the United States confidentiality is respected and legally enforced. Laws in Australia may be different. Thoughts of suicide expressed by a patient to his/her healthcare providers would be treated as confidential and would not be reported to family members. Exceptions would be if the patient has signed an ROI for the family member, of if there was a very immediate/foreseeable suicidal risk.
Dr. Anthony Vita
Specializes in Psychiatry
Provided original answer
ROI = Release of Information, which grants a physician permission to speak with specific family members.
Aug 22, 2014
Dr. Phillip Goebel
Emergency Medicine 16 years experience
With permission: At least in the United States, the sharing of medical and especially psychiatric information is strictly regulated by law. If the patient consents to sharing the information, the medical staff can discuss it with family. If the patient declines that permission, then they will not share the information. Sorry to hear that your family member is struggling.
Dr. Michelle King
Psychiatry 26 years experience
Health info: As with any health related information, the pt’s suicidal ideation, or other issues would be discussed with his/her family only with the pt’s consent. If the pt has signed a release to discuss such matters with a specified family member in advance, it would then be discussed if needed, but the pt has the right to rescind that release. Confidentiality is a big deal.

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Last updated Nov 27, 2017

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