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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Patient Loses Privacy Claim Against Doctor

(CN) - A doctor did not violate a patient's privacy by telling her case workers that she needed to stop taking prescription drugs, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled.

Teresa Gard suffered a back injury on the job and sought treatment from Dr. Dennis Harris.

However, Harris stopped seeing Gard after watching a surveillance video of her activities, which was supplied to him by an insurance company. The video showed Gard riding in a boat, bending over in her front yard and entering a car without pain.

Harris wrote a letter instructing Gard to stop taking narcotic medicine and shared the letter with the doctor who had referred Gard to him, the insurance company and Gard's workers' compensation case worker.

Gard sued Harris and HealthStar Physicians for defamation and false light invasion of privacy, claiming the letter suggests that she was addicted to narcotics.

The trial court ruled for the doctor, and the appeals court affirmed, based on Gard's having signed a consent form that allowed Harris to share her health care information with appropriate parties.

"Because consent bars recovery of Ms. Gard's false light invasion of privacy and defamation claims, no genuine issues of material fact exist, and Dr. Harris and HealthStar are entitled to a judgment as a matter of law," Judge John McClarty wrote.

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