Confidentiality is an important legal and ethical duty, but it is not absolute.
This area deals with the key principles relating to confidentiality that you should apply to your practice.
It provides a framework to help you decide when you can share information. And it helps you to think about why you are sharing the information, and how this promotes good healthcare: information may be shared for the direct care or protection of the patient, to protect others, or for another reason.
The section also deals with managing and protecting information. With the introduction of the POPI Act, the spotlight has fallen on these issues, and we provide helpful advice on doctors’ personal responsibilities for protecting patient information, and for making information available in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
Commentary CC001: Introduction to confidentiality and disclosure (Open Access)
Commentary CC002: What are the key principles of confidentiality?
When can information be disclosed to others providing care?
When can information be disclosed for reasons other than treatment?
What steps should be taken to prevent unintentional disclosures?
When can disclosures be made in the public interest without the patient’s consent?
When can personal information be disclosed for audit, research, or in journals or textbooks?
Disclosure where health practitioners have dual responsibilities
This topic focuses on those situations where practitioners have a clear obligation to an identifiable third party that can be in tension with the obligation to the patient, such as where healthcare practitioners:
provide occupational health services or medical care for employees of a company or organisation;
are employed by an organisation, such as an insurance company;
work for an agency assessing claims for benefits;
provide medical care to patients, and are subsequently asked to provide medical reports or information for third parties about the patients;
work as district medical officers or forensic pathologists;
work in the Armed Forces; or
work in correctional services.