Secrets in the Courtroom: The Origins of Physician-Patient Privilege in America, 1776-1920
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis examines the nineteenth-century rise of physician-patient privilege in the United States. Owing to the Duchess of Kingston’s 1776 trial for bigamy, the privilege is not recognized in many common law jurisdictions, including federal courtrooms. Beginning in New York in 1828, however, physician-patient privilege was gradually incorporated into the statutory codes of numerous states. At present, most American courtrooms observe some form of the privilege. Drawing upon medical and legal sources, especially professional journals, this thesis seeks to place physician-patient privilege in its historical context, analyzing the ways in which developments within the medical and legal professions have shaped the evolution of the privilege.