PHC216 Ethics and Regulations in Healthcare

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Ethics and Regulations in Healthcare

Course number:

PHC 216



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Justify and explain with an example from current health issues, the reasons under which confidentiality can be breached in the public interest?

Confidentiality Breach in Healthcare

In health care, confidentiality entails the preservation of trust between medical practitioners and patients. Confidentiality allows the safeguarding of data in intimate relationships within a health care setting (Blightman, Griffiths, & Danbury, 2014). However, the modern health care approaches allow the breaching of confidentiality; thus, making it relative. Caregivers may breach confidentiality in favor of public interest when a patient is at risk of promoting harm to others and the breaching can prevent the occurrence of the risk. For instance, a patient affected by the Covid-19 pandemic exposes healthy individuals to the risk of contracting the illness. As such, the health professions have the mandate of informing the health individuals to take caution, which by doing so they breach the patient’s medical information.

The ethical guidelines allow the breaching of confidentiality in some circumstances. For instance, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) allows the health professions to breach patients’ confidentiality where it is required or permitted by law preventing patients and other people from harm. In the scenario of the Covid-19 affected patient, the law allows the health professions to share the information with the public to prevent the spread of the virus. Beltran-Aroca et al., 2016 suggest that breaching patients’ confidentiality plays a significant role since it allows the third party to take caution when exposed to patients who can inflict harm. Thus, the law gives the caregivers the power to act and override confidentiality to save the interest of the public.

The involvement of other people in the care of a patient may lead to the occurrence of a confidentiality breach. In the example of the patient with Covid-19, the doctor may disclose the information to the health insurance company of the patients to enable the settling of hospital bills. Additionally, scenarios such as child abuse and rape cases require the medics to share the patient’s information with the police; thus, providing evidence for the suspect's conviction. The medics’ provision of evidence to the legal bodies results in the confidentiality breach leaking the patient’s information to the third party. According to Beltran-Aroca et al. (2016), medical consultations may lead to a breach of confidentiality. For instance, a health professional can disclose a patient’s information to his colleague for clarification purposes.

In summary, confidentiality breaches occur in circumstances where the situation is endangering patient’s and other peoples’ lives. The law expects the health care providers to act according to the ethics and regulations developed to govern the confidentiality of the patients. On that note, the releasing of confidential information should satisfy the law’s requirements by the law.


Beltran-Aroca, C. M., Girela-Lopez, E., Collazo-Chao, E., Montero-Pérez-Barquero, M., & Muñoz-Villanueva, M. C. (2016). Confidentiality breaches in clinical practice: what happens in hospitals?. BMC medical ethics, 17(1), 52.

Blightman, K., Griffiths, S., & Danbury, C. (2014). Patient confidentiality: when can a breach be justified? Continuing Education in Anaesthesia. Critical Care & Pain, 14(2), 52–56.


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