Starting with a disciplinary case of the New York Academy of Medicine against the surgeon J. Marion Sims in 1869/70, this introduction gives examples of typical problems with medical confidentiality. These arose from practitioners’ unauthorized disclosure of confidential patient information as well as from demands of state authorities for such information. The latter scenario is illustrated by German cases, including the notorious Memmingen abortion case of the late 1980s. The book’s three main themes-medical privilege in court, notification of venereal diseases and reporting of illegal abortions – are highlighted, and the scholarly literature on the history of medical confidentiality is briefly reviewed.
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