If I tell an employee, who’s also a nursing student, in confidence at my place of work that I was on anti depressants and suffering from bipolar disorder, can she tell management without my permission?

Posted 06-12-2013

Steve Duggan replies:

I cannot tell just from your question why you believe your communication to your co-worker was in “confidence.” Just because she is a nursing student, does not mean that your communication was protected by any legal privilege, physician or otherwise. Therefore, as with any co-worker, once you voluntarily disclose private information to a person, you put ourselves at risk that our confidence will be violated. I am not aware of any legal remedy for violation of that trust, or any legal prohibition against her telling someone else, including someone in management. That does not mean that I think what she did was right, just that I don’t think there is anything you can do about it in a court of law. You could raise the matter with the director of the nursing program in which your colleague is enrolled, and ask if it is a breach of professional ethics. If you feel that you had some legally protected right to trust her with such information, I recommend that you consult with an attorney in your area.

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