Journal Article

MEDICAL CONFIDENTIALITY WITHIN THE FAMILY: THE DOCTOR’S DUTY RECONSIDERED

Roy Gilbar

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 18, issue 2, pages 195-213
Published in print August 2004 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online August 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/18.2.195
MEDICAL CONFIDENTIALITY WITHIN THE FAMILY: THE DOCTOR’S DUTY RECONSIDERED

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One of the most difficult issues doctors face is a conflict between their professional duties. Such a conflict may arise when doctors know that information has implications not only for patients but also for family members but their duty of confidentiality prevents them from disclosing it. Concentrating on English law, the doctor's duty is strict and based on two principles: an individualistic perception of patient autonomy and an overriding utilitarian principle of prevention of harm. However, as the empirical research presented in this article indicates, these principles do not entirely reflect the views of patients and doctors and are too narrow to deal with the complex situations in practice. Thus, it is argued that the doctor’s duty of confidentiality should be reconsidered and qualified when it concerns the family.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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