Baldivieso, César Alejandro s/ causa n° 4733

B. 436. XL.
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The plaintiff, Cesar Alejandro Baldivieso, felt sick and so he went to a public hospital were doctors found that he had ingested capsules containing cocaine. The doctors passed along this information to police officers working at the hospital. As a result of this disclosure, Baldivieso was prosecuted and found guilty of drug trafficking by the Federal Criminal Court of Salta [Tribunal Oral en lo Criminal Federal de Salta]. The plaintiff filed an appeal with the National Court of Appeal [Cámara Nacional de Casación Penal] which was dismissed so the Baldivieso’s lawyer filed an extraordinary appeal with the Supreme Court of Justice arguing that the criminal procedure was invalid from the beginning: the police only learned about the crime because doctors breached their duty of confidentiality towards the patient.
The Supreme Court of Justice upheld the Baldivieso's claim. It considered that the case involved two conflicting interests: on the one hand, every patient had a right to confidentiality, which derived from the right to private autonomy recognized by Article 19 of the National Constitution. On the other hand, the State had an interest in prosecuting crimes. The Court noted that this case involved the right to life and physical integrity of Baldivieso because the capsules that he had swallowed were threatening his life.
The Court concluded that patient's rights to life, physical integrity and confidentiality had primacy over the interest of the State in the prosecution of crimes. Otherwise, the State would force patients like Baldivieso to choose between dying or being convicted, a choice which infringed their human dignity and their right to life. The Supreme Court held that the State couldn't take advantage of the situation of a patient who went to a hospital to save his life.