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last updated:24/01/2012 @ 3:49 pm
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Competency 3 – Good Clinical Care: Respect confidentiality

Objective: to develop reflective communication between healthcare professionals, employers and employees


Respect confidentiality.

GMC publication Confidentiality: Protecting and Providing Information

This can be elicited by a series of questions to open debate on confidentiality.

Are all medical practitioners bound by confidentiality?

  • Yes

Why is confidentiality important?

  • Patients’ right to know that information about them will be held in confidence by their doctors.
  • It is central to the trust between doctors and patients.
  • Without confidentiality patients may be reluctant to give doctors information they need in order to provide good care.

How can information given in confidence be passed onto a third party?

  • With expressed consent of the individual concerned.
  • Disclosures required by law.
  • Disclosures to the courts or in connection with litigation.
  • Disclosures to statutory bodies.
  • Disclosures in the public interest.
  • Disclosures to protect patients or others.
  • Disclosures in relation to children or those who lack capacity to give consent.
  • Disclosures following death.

What type of information can a medical practitioner pass on to an employer regarding an employee?

  • Factual information regarding an individual’s general state of health.
  • Prognosis of their medical condition; likely date of return to work, general information relating to the nature of any health concerns.

Is there a difference between passing on information to an employer and an occupational health professional?

  • Yes, a report submitted to a fellow medical professional is likely to contain more clinical details, and use medical jargon freely.
  • Such reports are bound by confidentiality by the occupational health professional and the only information that can be provided to management without consent is that relating to functional ability.
  • It can be interpreted by the occupational health professional to the needs of the working environment.

Can a medical practitioner pass on confidential information without consent?

  • Yes as outlined above