Ethical Foundations of Health Care: Responsibilities in Decision Making

By Jane Singleton; Susan McLaren | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
12
Ethical issues in information
exchange: confidentiality,
informed consent, truth telling

'Anyone who thinks that disclosure of confidential information is morally justified, or even mandatory in some circumstances, bears a burden of proof. While this approach requires a balancing of conflicting duties, it also establishes a structure of moral reasoning and justification.' 1


12.1 CONFIDENTIALITY
From both moral and legal perspectives, the rationales for maintaining the confidentiality of information relating to individuals, both verbal and in records, are extremely powerful and compelling. Strong justifications must be made for breaking this duty, which should only occur in exceptional situations. How can confidentiality be justified, both morally and legally? From a legal perspective Dimond 2 cites three major duties from which arise the duty of confidentiality:
The duty of care arising from common law and following from the health care professional/consumer relationship (see Chapter 15).

-103-

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