Volume 6, Number 6 (2-2014)                   ijme 2014, 6(6): 64-76 | Back to browse issues page


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Asemani O, Ebrahimi S. Medical confidentiality. ijme. 2014; 6 (6) :64-76
URL: http://ijme.tums.ac.ir/article-1-5276-en.html

1- Medical Ethics PhD Candidate Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Health, Faculty of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
2- Associate Professor Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Health, Faculty of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. , sedighehebrah@yahoo.com
Abstract:   (12194 Views)
Confidentiality is an inevitable pillar of the history of the physician-patient relationship. Misunderstanding of this principle not only causes harm to sanctity of the medical profession, but also can damage the quality of the therapeutic relationship, and more broadly public health. The keystone of this negative effect is the potential harm to the patients’ trust and confidence. Generally, the Western school tends to agree that respecting patient confidentiality is essentially desirable. Islam also respects and emphasizes confidentiality, and has general and some specific recommendations about the importance of secrecy and concealment of people’s secrets. Overall, despite strong agreement about the importance of the principle, some ethical theories do not insist on maintaining confidentiality under any circumstance. This paper is an attempt to describe the importance of confidentiality in the medical profession considering the approach of both absolutists and relativists in practice.Absolutists believe that the intrinsic desirability of implementing the principle of confidentiality in all cases is the same and without any exception, but the issue is about not giving just priority to other conflicting moral values.Additionally, the absolutists believe that breaching this principle in practice cannot be permissible due to some serious long-term and mostly hidden complications such as patients’ failure or delay to seek medical assistance or advice and/or withholding important information and so forth. Overall, according to empirical evidence and rational considerations, adherence to absolute confidentiality seems more desirable to absolutists. Unlike absolutists, in relativists’ concept of confidentiality, insisting on maintaining the secret will not be allowed in certain cases, and those cases are considered exceptions of the rule of confidentiality.The most important reasons for falling into the wrong orientation of relative confidentiality seem to be precipitance to attain the desired result, poor communication skills, ignorance of the consequences, and being headstrong.
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Type of Study: review | Subject: اخلاق پزشکی
Received: 2014/03/15 | Accepted: 2014/03/15 | Published: 2014/03/15

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