Doctor–Patient Privilege Law and Legal Definition

Doctor–Patient Privilege is a legal privilege, arising from a doctor’s obligation of confidentiality. It refers to the right to exclude from discovery and evidence in a legal proceeding any confidential communication that a patient makes to a physician for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment, unless the patient consents to the disclosure. This privilege belongs to the patient, not the doctor and therefore only a patient may waive the privilege. A patient can sue the physician for damages if the doctor breaches the confidence by testifying.

In the U.S, the Federal Rules of Evidence do not recognize doctor-patient privilege. At the state level, the extent of the privilege varies depending on the law of the applicable jurisdiction. For example, in Texas there is only a limited physician-patient privilege in criminal proceedings and civil cases.