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Flashcards in Confidentiality Deck (7)
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What legal framework governs the disclosure of patient information?

  • Common Law of Confidentiality
  • Data Protection Act (1998)
  • Human Rights Act (1998)
  • Administrative Law 


What does the GMC say about confidentiality?

What can be the consequences of not maintaining confidentiality?

Confidentiality is essential for trust, which is an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship.

Patients may avoid seeking medical help, or may under-report symptoms, if they think their personal information will be disclosed by doctors without consent. 


What ethical concepts underpin confidentiality?

Autonomy (right to choose how personal information is used)



Trust, promise keeping, honesty



How does confidentiality benefit patients?

Encourages them to seek medical attention



In which circumstances can confidentiality be broken?

If patient consents, e.g:

  • For purpose of patient's healthcare
  • Clinical audit
  • Government/insurers/employers 

If required by law

Disclosures justified by public interest


Give examples of when confidentiality can be broken in public interest

How should each one be dealt with?

  • Gunshot and knife wounds:
    • ​Personal information should only be disclosed if necessary.
    • Police can be given personal information if they have a warrant or order from a judge. 
  • DVLA: 
    • Patient should be informed of duty to inform DVLA and stop driving if required.
    • Every effort should be made to persuade pt to inform DVLA, if they refuse then Drs have a duty to inform DVLA. Pt should be informed. 
  • Serious communicable diseases:
    • People at risk of infection should be informed (e.g. sexual partners of people with HIV)


Give examples of when confidentiality can be broken as required by law

  • Notification of certain infectious diseases
  • At request of regulatory bodies
  • If ordered by a judge