Patient Confidentiality – The New GMC Guidance 2017

Since 2009 the GMC guidance on confidentiality has been the “go to” document for medical practitioners to understand the duties and rights of patients. On April 25 2017 the new confidentiality guidance will be launched. The revised guidance is structured for easy use in practice. It has been expanded, updated and re-organised to reflect the way doctors use information with a focus on:
 

  • Disclosures to support the direct care of an individual patient.
  • Disclosures for the protection of patients and others.
  • Disclosures for all other purposes.
     

The GMC has published a helpful “what has changed” guidance which stresses that the new guidance is not intended to be an exhaustive summary of the changes and many of the 2009 confidentiality principles remain unchanged.
 

The new guidance sets out the legal basis for disclosing confidential information and a decision making flow chart to help doctors ask the right questions in the right order and to establish what the basis may be for a disclosure. The remainder of the guidance is structured according to the three purposes for which patient information is used. The guidance also contains some specific help on a range of situations doctors often encounter such as reporting concerns about fitness to drive to DVLA and disclosing information for employment and insurance purposes, disclosure about serious communicable disease; reporting gun shot and/or knife wounds; information for education and training; responding to criticism in the press and disclosures for financial and administrative purposes.
 

This new guidance is a “must” read for all medical professionals and those supporting and advising them in what has become a complex medico-legal area.

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