Official Partner The Royal Society of Medicine Education Investor Awards 2017 Winner Feefo Gold Service 2019

Menu

4 Pillars of Medical Ethics: Confidentiality

Patient Confidentiality

 

Maintaining confidentiality is both a legal and ethical responsibility of healthcare professionals. Generally speaking doctors may not disclose any patient information without the patient’s consent.

However, confidentiality is not absolute and some situations will warrant breach of confidentiality. If patient confidentiality is likely to put human life at risk of harm, then as a doctor you must weigh up the pros and cons of breaking confidentiality.

As a doctor you should always consult the extensive guidelines on confidentiality available from the GMC before reaching you decision.

The best way to think through an ethical scenario is to consider the four principles of medical ethics. In a nutshell they are:

Want to learn how to answer medical ethics questions? Book a space on our one-day Interview Course!

Book an Interview Course

Autonomy

For Patient Confidentiality:

Against Patient Confidentiality:

How much do you know about medical ethics? Take the quiz>>

Beneficence and Non-Maleficence

For Patient Confidentiality:

Against Patient Confidentiality:

Read our guide to medical ethics>>

Justice

For Patient Confidentiality:

Against Patient Confidentiality:

Read NHS Hot Topics 2018-19>>

What are some examples of ethical scenarios involving confidentiality?

You are a junior doctor. One of the patients on your ward has just been diagnosed with HIV. They tell you that they do not intend on telling their partner of this diagnosis. How would you deal with this situation?

A young first-time mum confides in you that she is struggling to cope with the baby and that she often has thoughts of harming the baby. She has asked you to promise not to tell anyone else. How would you deal with this situation? Explain your reasoning.

A patient with newly diagnosed, uncontrolled epilepsy tells you that he has a new job as a van driver. He has not notified his employers or DVLA that he has epilepsy. He tells you that if he loses this job he will be not be able to afford his rent and risks becoming homeless. How would you deal with this situation? Explain your reasoning.

Words: Ateka Gomaa

Looking for 2019 entry interview tips?

Loading

Loading More Content