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 A physician's liability for disclosing confidential information about a patient is not a new problem. In common-law jurisdictions it has been more discussed than litigated throughout much of this century. See, e.g., Hanning and Brady, Extrajudicial Truthful Disclosure of Medical Confidences: A Physician's Civil Liability, 44 Den L J 463 (1967) (citing the earlier literature); Boyle, Medical Confidence -- Civil Liability for Breach, 24 N Ire Leg Q 19 (1973). There are precedents for damage actions for unauthorized disclosure of facts conveyed in confidence, although we know of none involving the disclosure of an adoption. Because such claims are made against a variety of defendants besides physicians or other professional counselors, for instance against banks, see, e.g., Peterson v. Idaho First National Bank, 83 Idaho 578, 367 P2d 284 (1961), and because plaintiffs understandably plead alternative theories of recovery, the decisions do not always rest on a single theory. 


Sometimes, a defendant may have promised confidentiality expressly or by factual implication. Plaintiffs were allowed to proceed on implied contract claims in Horne v. Patton, 291 Ala 701, 287 So2d 824 (1973), in Hammonds v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company, 243 F Supp 793 ...

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