|On Ethics and Confidentiality||
|Ethics and laws regarding confidentiality evolved long before the information highway was envisioned. Electronic health information systems allow increased access and transmission to health data. Health care professionals in integrated delivery systems or networks now have access to the confidential information of all the patients within their system or network. Confidential information also is disseminated through clinical repositories and shared databases. Sharing this information allows patients to be treated more efficiently and safely. The challenge for the healthcare professional is to utilize this technology, while honoring and respecting patient confidentiality.
Medical Professionals should become familiar with laws involving the duty to maintain confidentiality. Any breach in confidentiality—even one that seems minor—can result in mistrust and, possibly, a lawsuit and/or disciplinary action.
In matters of confidentiality, law and ethics reinforce each other. Law ensures that the clients rights are guaranteed against those who do not act from ethical motives: ethics guarantees that the institutional conscience will transcend law and attend to obligations, whether guaranteed by law or not (ASW, 1991)