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Case Study:

Celebrity Disclosure

A well-known pop star, Britney Spears, was admitted to Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for psychiatric evaluation as part of a child-custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline, who temporarily had sole legal and physical custody of the couple’s children. Dr. Phil McGraw, a well-known talk show host and friend of the family, visited Spears in the hospital on January 7th without Spears’ consent. McGraw subsequently released a statement were he said

“meeting with Britney and some of her family members this morning in her room at Cedars leaves me convinced more than ever that she is in dire need of both medical and psychological intervention. She was released moments before my arrival and was packing when I entered the room. We visited for about an hour before I walked with her to her car. I am very concerned for her.” (Harris 2008)

1.Did Dr. Phil have the right to visit Ms. Spears? Did he have the right to make the statement he did about her condition?

2.What access or disclosure problems do you see with this situation?

  1. What are some of the issues that surface with this case as related to public figures or celebrities as well as patients with behavioral healthcare issues?

4.Source: Harris, C. “Dr. Phil Defends Visit To Britney Spears As A Favor To Family.” MTV News, January 7, 2008. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1579099/20080107/…


  1. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website to review the substance abuse confidentiality regulations related to “Apply the Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations to Health Information Exchange.” Select two FAQs to summarize.
  1. Review the 2004 assessment of “The Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Record Regulation and the HIPAA Privacy Rule: Implications for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Programs,”. Discuss whether you feel HIPAA is adequately covering the confidentiality of substance abuse health records. http://www.samhsa.gov/healthPrivacy/

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