Thomas E. Toney


The present Missouri privilege statute is as follows: The following persons shall be incompetent to testify: .... a physician or surgeon, concerning any information which he may have acquired from any patient while attending him in a professional character, and which information was necessary to enable him to prescribe for such patient as a physician or do any act for him as a surgeon. Even though the statute speaks of being "incompetent to testify" the statute has been interpreted to mean that it creates a physician-patient privilege. To claim the benefit of this statute two requirements must be met. First, there must be a professional relationship between the physician and the patient. There need not be an expressed or implied contract, but there must be an intent on the part of both for treatment of medical problems. However, if only the patient intends treatment, there is still a privilege because the purpose of the statute is to protect the patient. Second, the information must have been furnished for the purpose of treatment or prescription. Facts outside of the treatment are not privileged, including statements as to the cause of the condition for which the patient is obtaining treatment.

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