The Concept Of Patient Confidentiality

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Introduction Formulated in ancient Greece over 2500 years ago, the Hippocratic Oath has long been used as a pledge for medical practitioners to uphold the highest ethical standards in the course of their practice (North, 2002; Eva, 2013). During the course of modern medical history, many modern adaptations continue to be used as a symbolic rite of passage for new doctors (Holmboe & Bernabeo, 2013; Kantarjian & Steensma, 2014). One of the cornerstones of medical ethics highlighted in the original text, which remains relevant even in the present day is the concept of patient confidentiality. Patient confidentiality is the state of keeping private and secure the information of a patient-doctor encounter. It has been broadly defined to include the security of information in patient records, restriction of information to authorized recipients and professional silence (Allen, 2011). The patient-doctor relationship is based on trust and the understanding that the often deeply personal information shared would remain private. Confidentiality has been shown to promote health seeking behaviour and full disclosure of health related information, facilitating early and accurate diagnosis, while the success of the medical management depends to a certain extent on the trust placed on the doctor (General Medical Council, 2009; Allen, 2011). Confidentiality secures patient autonomy as the release of personal information is determined and controlled by the patient themselves (O’ Brien &
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