President Donald Trump had doctors and nonmedical staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center sign nondisclosure agreements after an unexpected visit last year, NBC News reports.
Trump required staff at Walter Reed to sign NDAs after his surprise trip to the hospital on Nov. 16, 2019, according to four unnamed people with knowledge of the process. The reason for the president’s visit is still unknown, but he reportedly made the same requirement after his more recent visit for coronavirus treatment.
“Any physician caring for the President is bound by patient physician confidentiality guaranteed under HIPAA [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], and I’m not going to comment on internal procedures beyond that,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
As NBC notes, HIPAA already prohibits people who provide medical services to anyone, be they the president or an average American, from disclosing that patient’s personal health information without their consent.
“Ethically and legally you can ask for an NDA, but you don’t need one,” said Arthur Caplan, the head of the division of medical ethics at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. “Doctors can’t share information with anyone except anyone caring for the patient or anyone billing the patient. And ultimately it’s up to the patient whether or not the doctor can share information.”
He added, “It’s more redundant than unethical. The presumption is privacy first.”