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Medical Law and Ethics

Medical Law and Ethics (8th edn)

Jonathan Herring
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date: 03 June 2023

p. 2736. Confidentialitylocked

p. 2736. Confidentialitylocked

  • Jonathan HerringJonathan HerringProfessor of Law, Exeter College, University of Oxford


This chapter examines the legal and ethical aspects of medical confidentiality. The discussion include the legal basis of confidentiality; defences to claims of breach of confidentiality; the Data Protection Act 1998; legal remedies in confidentiality cases; patient access to their own health information; and ethical arguments for and against confidentiality. Underpinning this chapter is the tension between requiring that a patient’s confidences are kept and the fact that sometimes there is an overwhelming reason why confidentiality needs to be breached. A further difficulty for this topic is that once confidentiality has been breached it can be very difficult to formulate an effective legal remedy.

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