In its original expression as a medical value confidentiality may have been absolute; this concept has become eroded by patient consent, legal actions and change in the climate of public opinion. In particular requirements arising out of legal statutes and common law judgements have greatly modified the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship in societies deriving their law from English origins. Despite this, confidentiality remains a value which the physician must strive to preserve. He cannot however do this without considering its effect upon possible innocent third parties.
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