On health, sense and confidentiality

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Medical confidentiality is a cornerstone of doctor-patient relations. Although physicians are obliged to keep to themselves any information concerning their patients, it is understood that this obligation is not absolute. There are extreme situations in which doctors are expected, by law, to break medical confidentiality for the benefit of the public. One such unusual situation is the case of HIV carriers who refuse to notify their sexual partners concerning their medical condition. This ignorance on the partner's side might endanger his/her life. As there is no way to enforce the HIV carrier to expose his/her secret while he/she is not willing to do so, it is suggested that the disclosure of this sensitive information should be the physician's task. Firstly, the doctor should obtain an ethical committee's approval. It is also suggested that in these rare cases where doctors will have no choice but to reveal information concerning a patient, the issue will be publicized in a proper way, in order to let the public know the circumstances of the particular case. It is hoped that such publicity will be an appropriate answer to any doubts concerning doctors' behavior regarding medical confidentiality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-192
Number of pages2
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


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