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Sharing patient information between professionals: confidentiality and ethics

Med J Aust 2003; 178 (6): 277-279.

Summary

  • Careful consideration of the ethical implications is required before patient information should be shared without the patient's knowledge.

  • Routine and apparently uncontroversial releases of information can be perceived as problematic by patients.

  • The ethics of such "ordinary" breaches of confidence can be explored by considering the patient's autonomy, the patient's best interests, and the public interest in preserving or breaching confidentiality.

  • Patient autonomy can be supported and ethical problems may be avoided when patients are given as much information as possible about foreseeable information disclosures.

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  • Annette J Braunack-Mayer1
  • Ea C Mulligan2

  • 1 Department of Public Health, University of Adelaide, SA.
  • 2 School of Law, The Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA.

Correspondence: 

Acknowledgements: 

Our research was supported in part by an Australian Postgraduate Award and a Flinders University Research Student Grant.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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