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October 30, 1967

Public Life and Private Information

Author Affiliations

From the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1967;202(5):398-400. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130180064010

The publication after their death of information on health problems of President Kennedy and Prime Minister Churchill has raised questions on the treating physician's right to divulge information about patients. The problem is not one of privilege, as is often stated, but rather one of confidentiality. This report suggests that, since public personages often manipulate the content of information released about their health during their lifetime, after their deaths their physicians have a right to reveal information clarifying and supplementing lifetime reports without violating the general rule of confidentiality.