Physicians may disclose autopsy results to the surrogate or other decision maker who gave consent for the procedure.
Otherwise, physicians may disclose a deceased patient’s personal health information only:
- In accord with the patient’s explicit prior consent or directive. Physicians should respect the individual’s specific preferences regarding disclosure.
- When required by law.
- When in the physician’s judgment disclosure will avert harm to, or benefit, identifiable individuals or the community.
- For purposes of medical research or education if personal identifiers have been removed.
In all circumstances, physicians should:
- Consider the effect disclosure is likely to have on the patient’s reputation.
- Restrict disclosure to the minimum necessary information.
When disclosing a deceased patient’s health information would result in personal gain for the physician (financial or otherwise), the physician must seek specific consent to the disclosure from the patient’s authorized decision maker.