Harris D; International Conference on AIDS.
Int Conf AIDS.
1989 Jun 4-9; 5: 945 (abstract no. T.F.O.2).
The Terrence Higgins Trust Legal Centre. United Kingdom
OBJECTIVE: To review the legal right of confidentiality to see when it is overridden by the public interest exceptions either to protect others or the freedom of the press. METHODS: When is information legally confidential as opposed to just private? Examination of legislation and case law in the UK. Clinical information identifying people with AIDS in confidential (viz, NHS ((Regs)) 1974, and the case of X v Y (1988)). There is a primary duty to the patient to keep medical information confidential which may only be overridden by a doctor when it is in the public interest. Rarely, is it legally advisable to breach confidentiality to serve the wider public interest of protecting others. Only when there was a clear infection risk could a doctor be legally liable for failure to disclose. CONCLUSION: X v Y (1988) 2 All ER 648, was a English court case concerning two doctors who had AIDS. A newspaper obtained the confidential hospital records identifying the doctors but the court granted an injunction restraining publication. The judge said that the confidentiality of the hospital records was more important that protecting the public from theoretical risks posed by the doctors, and the freedom of the press to publish such information.
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
- Civil Rights
- Hospital Records
From Meeting Abstracts