The New York Times ran a story yesterday about Donald Trump’s long time doctor, Harold Bornstein, and his disclosure that his ridiculous hair is maintained with the male pattern baldness drug Propecia.
President Trump takes medication for three ailments, including a prostate-related drug to promote hair growth, Mr. Trump’s longtime physician, Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, said in a series of recent interviews.
Hair! Trump! What fun! Right? And as a bonus, the drug is also linked to occasional, detrimental, sexual side effects. Trump! And Sex! It sells!
But just one little bitty problem. It appears from the article that the good Dr. Bernstein might not have had permission to disclose. Oops.
Bornstein, it seems, has been Trump’s doctor since 1980, giving him a wealth of very personal, and very private, information. But no contact lately.
Well, if doctor and patient didn’t have contact, how could he get permission to divulge information that is very clearly protected by the patient-doctor privilege? From the article:
[Bornstein] said that he had had no contact with Mr. Trump since he became president, and that no one from Mr. Trump’s White House staff had asked for copies of the medical records that he has kept for the last 36 years, or called to discuss them.
And then there is this, supporting the idea that Bornstein didn’t have permission to open his yapper to the press:
At times in the interviews, Dr. Bornstein was moody, ranging from saying that Mr. Trump’s health “is none of your business” to later volunteering facts.
Well, that’s not good, is it?
Privacy is the bedrock of the relationship, for if patients can’t have confidence in the confidentiality of what is said, they may omit things that turn out to be detrimental to their health. And that is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.
From the Merck Manual, in an overview on the subject:
All people are entitled to confidentiality unless they give permission for disclosure or they clearly can no longer express a preference (for example, if they are severely confused or comatose). A federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA―Health Information Privacy) applies to most health care practitioners and its regulation, known as the Privacy Rule, sets detailed rules regarding privacy, access, and disclosure of information.
Ahh, the Privacy Rule. And here is all you want to know about it.
And a doctor could face criminal penalties, if the government was so inclined, and could likely face action against his license.
If Trump is pissed — and he’s always pissed at something — he could theoretically make a complaint to Health and Human Services and ask for enforcement. And HHS could, in turn, refer the matter to the Department of Justice.
Would HHS and DOJ say no to the boss?