Unit 9

Privacy and confidentiality


Definitions of ‘privacy’ and ‘confidentiality’

Reasons for respecting privacy and confidentiality

Duty of healthcare providers to protect the privacy of patients

Duty of healthcare providers to maintain confidentiality (also known as ‘professional secrecy’)

Confidentiality extends to all personal health information, including genetic data

Justified breaches of confidentiality include:

a. Sharing information for patient care
b. Using interpreters
c. Teaching medical students
d. Mandatory reporting
e. Serious danger to others
f. Genetic information
g. With patient or guardian consent

Special circumstances of research


21 grams / (A. González Iñárritu, 2003)

21 grams is a disquieting story concerning the value of life and death. Paul Rivers suffers a serious heart condition and must have an urgent transplant. He is not expected to live long so he goes with his wife Mary to a fertility center in search of help to conceive a child despite the difficult circumstances. He finally receives the heart of a man who died, together with his two daughters, in a car accident. The widow, devastated by the tragedy, later receives the unexpected visit of Paul, the recipient of the organ donated by her dead husband, thus opening a complex web of passion, guilt and vengeance.

Ethical issues
Confidenciality, Privacy, Assisted procreation, Organ transplant