Confidentiality New GMC Guidance
The new Guidance came into operation from 25 April 2017; it expands on previous General Medical Council (GMC) guidance, has some helpful flow charts and provides greater clarity in situations when it is appropriate for doctors to disclose personal information.
There is a new section on the doctors’ responsibilities for management and protection of patient confidential information. The objective of the new Guidance is:
- To support and facilitate direct care of an individual patient;
- To protect patients and others; and
- For secondary purposes.
There is greater emphasis on the importance of sharing information between medical professionals involved in the direct care of a patient which reflects the need for collaboration particularly where patient care is managed by multidisciplinary and multi-agencies.
There is a section on implied consent and explicit consent meaning situations where patients should have information available to enable them to make decisions regarding objection to disclosure.
The guidance recognises patient autonomy and the need to respect patient’s decisions even if treatment or referral has to be discontinued.
The section on sharing information for secondary purposes deals with disclosures for the administration of justice and the circumstances where doctors are permitted or required by law to give disclosure of patient’s personal information.
There is an expanded section on managing and protecting information and the importance of data protection within medical practice.
The duty of confidentiality continues after death but there are restricted circumstances where patient information can be disclosed without that duty being breached including disclosure to a Coroner for an inquest of death certificates when disclosure is required by law
With the GDPR launch in May 2018 there are likely to be further amendments to this guidance.
The GMC have a helpful summary of “what’s changed” in a six page briefing.