Confidentiality describes the “privileged and private nature of information” shared by a patient with a physician. In general, this information should only be disclosed to a 3rd party with the patient’s express consent. In the U.S., confidentiality is regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). According to HIPAA, protected health information (PHI) may only be disclosed to assist in treatment, payment, and healthcare operations. While there are some specific situations where patient-doctor confidentiality may be broken (e.g., when the patient is at risk for self-harm), these situations are considered exceptions and clinicians ought to make sure that confidentiality is not unnecessarily jeopardized.
Last updated: 6 May, 2022
Confidentiality is broken/PHI is shared under specific circumstances outlined by HIPAA (e.g., cases of suspected abuse; threats to public health or safety).
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