Codes of medical ethics issued by professional organizations typically contain statements affirming the importance of confidentiality between patients and health-care practitioners. Seldom, however, is the confidentiality obligation depicted as absolute. Instead, exceptions are noted, the most common of which is that health-care professionals are justified in breaching the confidence of a patient if required by law to do so. Reasons that might be given to support this exception are critically discussed in this paper. The conclusion argued for is that this is not a legitimate exception to the confidentiality rule.
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