August/September 2017 (vol. 14/2)

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Expert Witness: Breaching consent

Is there ever a duty to disclose confidential information without the patient’s consent?


Diana Kloss considers whether OH practitioners ever have an ethical, or perhaps even a legal duty to breach a patient’s consent

The legal and ethical duty of confidentiality that is imposed on those who receive confidential information, including lawyers and health professionals, has long been established. The legal duty is found in the common law, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998. The ethical duty is found in the guidance of the regulatory bodies, including the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The GMC’s guidance, updated in 2017, points out that it is in the public interest that patients trust health professionals. ‘The fact that people are encouraged to seek advice and treatment benefits society as a whole as well as the individual’1


Diana Kloss is a barrister, former part-time employment judge, Acas arbitrator and author.


Author: Kloss D


Occupational Health at Work August/September 2017 (vol. 14/2) pp19-20

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