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What Is Privileged Communication?

A conversation within the context of a protected relationship is called a privileged communication. This is an exchange of information between two individuals which is made confidential by the relationship.

In a court proceeding, a privileged communication cannot be used as evidence. This makes it controversial for excluding relevant facts from the truth-seeking process. A conversation between an attorney and his client, a doctor and his patient, a husband and wife, and a priest and penitent are types of a protected relationship of a privileged communication. Conversations should be made in a private setting in order for it to be qualified in a privileged status. For example, if a patient requests a one on one conversation with the doctor for him to reveal his symptoms or the reason of his illness, then it is a privileged communication. The doctor then is not allowed to tell anyone about the conversation, however if they talk in front a nurse then it is not considered as privileged. If for instance, the nurse just happened to pass by and overheard the conversation between the doctor and the patient, it is still a privileged communication although the nurse would not be forced to testify about the overheard conversation.

Any part of the communication when disclosed to a third party waives the privileged. People under this type of communication cannot be forced to reveal the conversations even under contempt of court or threat. If any of the parties disclose any information about the private conversations, they can be sued by the other party. A privileged communication benefits the speaker not the listener. Any information revealed by the listener to a third party without the consent of the speaker violates the laws of privileged communication.

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