Revised confidentiality guidance now in effect

REVISED GMC confidentiality guidance for all doctors practising in the UK came into effect on 25 April.

Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information is the result of an “extensive consultation exercise” and the revised guidance provides additional clarity on topics such as the public protection responsibilities of doctors, including when to make disclosures in the public interest, and the importance of sharing information for direct care.

The refreshed GMC materials also include specific supporting information about situations involving patient confidentiality that doctors may find hard to deal with. These include reporting concerns to the DVLA, reporting gunshot and knife wounds and disclosing information about serious communicable diseases. Other practical guidance includes a decision-making flowchart and interactive case studies.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: "Confidentiality is at the heart of medical practice but it should not be a barrier to good care. That’s why in this publication we emphasise the importance of talking, and listening to patients about what should happen to information about them. We also clarify that confidentiality does not prevent doctors listening to the views of those close to a patient, when that might be helpful to the patient’s care."