Capacity? Consent? Confidentiality? Similarly sounding terms with important and different meanings. A firm understanding of the most commonly used medico-legal principles will assist you in providing both well-reasoned and factual answers to ethical questions during your medical school interviews. This blog series is intended to provide a comprehensive guide to the medico-legal principles underpinning medical decision making.
This blog will cover all things confidentiality! This includes:
· Defining confidentiality
· Sharing information
· Breaking confidentiality
Information that patients share with their doctors is protected by the patients right to confidentiality. Maintaining confidentiality is essential for ensuring that trust remains between patients and their doctors.
Information is disclosed on a need-to-know basis and the minimum amount of information necessary should be disclosed. This means that only professionals relevant to a patient’s care can be given their medical information.
Doctors cannot break confidentiality without express prior consent from the patient unless the following situations arise:
· The patient is a risk to themselves i.e. threatening suicide
· The patient is a risk to others i.e. says to their GP that when they leave the practice they are going to drink a bottle of vodka and drive home
· The patient has a notifiable disease
· There are concerns about the care/ safety of a vulnerable patient i.e. a patient without capacity
· There are concerns surrounding child abuse or neglect in the patient’s home