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are my medical records confidential?

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I am a 19 year old female and on April 23 was taken to a hospital by ambulance for a very serious, but very personal reason. While in the ER I told the nurse taking my information not to call my parents and she agreed they wouldn't. During my stay at the hospital (a bit over 24hrs) I told 3 employees not to call my family and they all assured me that they would not.

I was discharged early on the 24th, and less than an hour after I returned to my home I received a call from my family. The billing department of the hospital had called my family and had told my family the details of my hospitalization. I called the hospital and talked to the social worker and expressed my anger at them having called my family against my wishes. Despite this, the next day the billing department called my family again.

In addition, on the same day I was released, the Billing Department called the switchboard of the college where I attend and although they knew exactly who they needed to be conected to, they told the switchboard operator the very personal details of my hospitalization.

Help! I've never dealt with a legal problem before. My family is of no help, the way my medical record was handled has caused incredible hardship for my family. What are my rights? What is this "problem" called? Should I see a lawyer? How much am I entitled to? What do I do?

(BTW, I am from Kansas, but this all took place in Missouri)




I have an appointment next week with a lawyer, but what should I prepare for? Do I need to bring anything? What should I expect? How much in damages can I reasonably ask for?

I would really appreciate some help, I just really want to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to anyone else, but I don't want to make myself look like a petty and cynical young woman in the process.

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