Some ethicists argue that patient confidentiality is absolute and thus should never be broken. Vital opportunities to help and support them may therefore be lost. Looking at similar duties of physicians and researchers to warn third parties of risk suggests they do. In this guidance, ‘personal information’ means information from which individuals can be identified either in itself or in combination with other available information. Balancing the competing duties of maintaining privacy in the doctor-patient relationship with minimising potential harm caused by non-disclosure of HIV status is not always easy, says Tak Kwong Chan The theoretical reasons for breaching patient confidentiality to protect a third party from risk of HIV infection are straightforward. Find tools, tips, and up-to-date information to help you through virtual interviews and more. It is not possible to provide appropriate medical care to patients if patients withhold relevant information out of concern that the confidentiality will not be maintained. Some of these are indirectly related to patient care in that they enable health services to function efficiently and safely. Duplication of the medical record by mechanical, digital, or other methods should not be allowed without the specific approval of the physician, taking into consideration applicable law. Physicians delicately walk the line between ethics and law, particularly in the face of statutory obligations to breach the sacred duty of confidentiality—all to prevent violence. Physicians have an ethical and a legal obligation to maintain confidentiality over their patients’ information. We support them in achieving and exceeding those standards, and take action when they are not met. A Nurse's Ethical Obligations. NOTE: Nothing herein or below shall be construed as contravening the standards for health information contained in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) relating to privacy, confidentiality, or security of personal health information. Patients may avoid seeking medical help, or may under-report symptoms, if they think their personal information will be disclosed2 by doctors without consent, or without the chance to have some control over the timing or amount of information shared. Learn more about breaches of doctor-patient confidentiality, medical malpractice, accidents, injuries, torts, negligence, liability, and other legal issues at FindLaw.com. Doctors are strictly prohibited from sharing medical records without a patient's consent. A confidential relationship between physician and patient is essential for the free flow of information necessary for sound medical care. “Carlos” case study: The physician’s duties of confidentiality and preventing harm are sometimes in conflict in HIV cases. 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For example, in rare cases where full and direct disclosure to the patient might harm the patient's mental and/or physical well-being, access may be extended to his/her designated representative, preferably a physician. We consider the basis for this duty, looking particularly at the meaning and value of autonomy in health care. Though not absolute, the privilege is protected by legislative action and case law. But appropriate information sharing is an essential part of the provision of safe and effective care. There are also important uses of patient information for purposes other than direct care. Doctors are under both ethical and legal duties to protect patients’ personal information from improper disclosure. Pursuant to a court order or statute that requires the release of the medical record to a law enforcement agency or other legal authority. We help to protect patients and improve medical education and practice in the UK by setting standards for students and doctors. Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information, The GMC is a registered charity in England and Wales (1089278) and Scotland (SC037750), Ethical and legal duties of confidentiality, Disclosing patients personal information a framework, When you can disclose personal information, Disclosing information with a patient's consent, Disclosing information when a patient lacks the capacity to consent, Disclosures approved under a legal process, Using and disclosing patient information for direct care, Implied consent and sharing information for direct care, Patient objections to sharing information for their own care, Sharing information with those close to the patient, Disclosures about patients who lack capacity to consent, If a patient who lacks capacity asks you not to disclose, Disclosures for the protection of patients and others, Disclosing information to protect patients, Disclosing information about children who may be at risk of harm, Disclosing information about adults who may be at risk of harm, Legal requirements to disclose information about adults at risk, Disclosing information to protect adults who lack capacity, The rights of adults with capacity to make their own decisions, Legal requirements to disclose information for public protection purposes, Disclosing information in the public interest, Disclosing genetic and other shared information, Using and disclosing patient information for secondary purposes, Disclosures required by statutes or the courts, Disclosing information to the courts, or to obtain legal advice, Disclosures for health and social care secondary purposes, Disclosures for financial or administrative purposes, The professional duty of candour and confidentiality, Openness and learning from adverse incidents and near misses, Disclosures with specific statutory support, Public interest disclosures for health and social care purposes, Requests from employers, insurers and other third parties, Managing and protecting personal information, Knowledge of information governance and raising concerns, Processing information in line with the data protection law, The rights of patients to access their own records, Disclosing information after a patient has died, Sources of law on confidentiality, data protection and privacy, Freedom of Information Acts across the UK, Regulation of healthcare providers and professionals, Laws on disclosure for health and social care purposes, Health and Social Care Act 2012 (England), Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Act 2015 (England), Health and Social Care (Control of Data Processing) Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006 (England and Wales), Statutory restrictions on disclosing information about patients, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (UK), The National Health Service (Venereal Diseases) Regulations 1974 (Wales) and the NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trusts (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) Directions 2000 (England). Read our Confidentiality key legislation factsheet in English. FMX may have ended, but the learning doesn't stop! Employers, medical schools and royal colleges, Information for employers and other organisations, Raising concerns about medical education and training, Our Chief Executive and Senior Management team, Employers, medical schools and royal colleges landing page, Ethical guidance for doctors landing page, Raise a concern about a doctor landing page, What happens to your concern landing page. The ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct are a good place to start. Medical confidentiality versus a duty to warn 8. The AAFP believes that patient confidentiality must be protected. With FMX On Demand, you can access recorded FMX sessions led by family medicine experts, and earn up to 155 enduring CME credits. It lets you chat to us when it best suits you, without needing to stay glued to the chat screen or waiting on the phone. Copyright © 2020 American Academy of Family Physicians. Also explore over 247 similar quizzes in this category. Chat to us, Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm. ... the confidentiality of one patient and preventing harm to another. Physicians in turn have an ethical obligation to preserve the confidentiality of information gathered in association with the care of the patient. Policies and contracts should further prohibit secondary information release without specific patient and physician authorization. C. The patient should have a right of access to his/her medical records and be allowed to provide identifiable additional comments or corrections. ... • Protecting confidentiality and preventing harm to family members may create a dilemma for physicians. Sharing information within healthcare teams is a form of disclosure, as is providing access to patients’ records. Although the duty of confidentiality is owed to all patients, it is clearly important to people who may be at risk of harm. Electronic health information communication systems must be equipped with appropriate safeguards (e.g., encryption; message authentication, user verification, etc.) of significant harm from abuse or neglect. By continuing to browse, you agree to our use of cookies. Try this amazing Quiz: Take This Medical Ethics Exam Test! However, beginning with Tarasoff in 1974 and 197611,14, the idea that physicians may have a duty to breach confidentiality when third parties are at … Prepare for the ABFM exam with the AAFP’s Family Medicine Board Review Express Livestream, February 18-21 and get the same in-depth Board review but with all the conveniences of your home or office. Suppose a physician is trying to decide whether to report a patient's HIV-positive condition to a family caregiver of that patient by weighing the possible harms and benefits of telling versus the possible harms and benefits of not telling. It is a matter of respecting the privacy of patients, encouraging them to seek medical care and discuss their problems candidly, and preventing discrimination on the basis of their medical conditions. All rights Reserved. If people subject to abuse do not feel they can trust their doctors to keep their confidences they may be less likely to visit them. The AAFP believes that state and federal legislators and jurists should seek a greater degree of standardization by recognizing the following principles regarding the privacy of medical information: A. The state's interest in preventing harm is weighty. Trust is an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship and confidentiality is central to this. E. Medical information may have legitimate purposes outside of the physician/patient relationship, such as, billing, quality improvement, quality assurance, population-based care, patient safety, etc. Confidentiality must be maintained particularly in areas where the adolescent has the legal right to give consent. to protect physician and patient privacy and confidentiality. Before we even get to the first question, we need to answer the second one. Trust is an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship and confidentiality is central to this. family, … You politely explain to your neighbour that you aren’t at liberty to reveal that information, but offer to pass on his regards to Mr Brown when you next see him. G. Disclosure may be made for use in conducting legal medical records audits provided that stringent safeguards to prevent release of individually identifiable information are maintained. information relating to the representation of their clients, the confidentiality rule is subject to limited exceptions. A confidential relationship between physician and patient is essential for the free flow of information necessary for sound medical care. Parents should not, in some circumstances, have unrestricted access to the adolescent’s medical records. Sensitive or privileged information may be excluded at the option of the physician unless the patient provides specific authorization for release. Physicians have long had a fiduciary duty to their patients and can and should protect their patients’ privacy, refusing inappropriate access to their files. A breach of confidentiality is when information is told about a patient to another person without the patient’s consent. 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