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Changing practice on confidentiality: further points for discussion
  1. Derek F H Pheby
  1. Senior Registrar in Community Medicine, Bath District Health Authority


    In the March 1982 issue of the Journal Dr Pheby, a community health doctor, was one of several writers to discuss medical confidentiality. Dr Pheby urged doctors to minimise subjective and judgmental comments in medical records and to make clear when their assessments were speculative. He also urged `vigorous reappraisal of the extent to which information about a patient needs to be circulated' to members of other disciplines, for instance, in child health practice. If doctors did not take such steps themselves legal changes might well be imposed upon them, giving patients the right of access to their medical records and perhaps making breach of medical confidentiality a criminal offence.

    Mr Jacob, a lawyer, commenting on the papers by Dr Pheby and Mr Kenny, a health administrator, argued that increased legal intervention in medical ethics could quite possibly actually erode traditional medical ethical standards of confidentiality based on peer review and `the ethic of virtue'.

    • Confidentiality
    • medical ethics
    • medical records
    • doctor-patient relationship
    • patients' rights.

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