Legal & Ethical Aspects

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Legal and Ethical Aspects

Legal and Ethical Aspects


In this paper, we are discussing about the case which defines about Bob and Sue, Bob is diagnosed as HIV positive. He has not informed Sue about his condition. Bob refuses for the treatment if Dr Gomez informed his wife about being HIV positive. This case represents the issue of Breaching confidentiality to protect others. Confidentiality is an ethical principle which is associated with medicine, law and several other principles. In Law, this can be determined as a legal resolution in which the communication between the professional and a person are privileged and may not be discussed with the third party. In this assignment we will discuss the ethical as well as legal issues which are associated with this case and what should the conflicts be resolved.

Confidentiality and breach of confidentiality

As a legal concept, confidentiality can be said to be an obligation on one person to uphold the privacy and security of another person's information. This legal obligation arises in several areas: under common law; in contract law where these terms can be express terms or implied; and as a general legal duty where it could be considered negligent if harm results as a consequence of a breach of confidence. As a principle in health care, confidentiality is based on the general duty of confidence and, as such, it is accepted legally that a practitioner owes a patient a duty of confidence. Confidentiality for the health professional also arises ethically due to its inclusion as a concept in professional codes of conduct and standards, for example the Nursing and Midwifery (NMC) code of conduct (Hughes, Louw, 2002, p. 147). The ethical principles of confidentiality in codes of conduct expand the legal basis of confidentiality and place additional obligations on the health professional. The legal and ethical rationalisation for confidentiality is that the healthcare professional win protects the information that is divulged to them by patients--or to which they have access as a result of their position--and will not pass this information on without the patient's permission or without reasonable justification. The reasoning behind this is that with this assurance patients will be willing to provide information about their situation that can aid accurate diagnosis and treatment. For example, a patient would be able to seek advice about his or her sexual relationships because the information would be held in confidence (Beauchamp, Childress, 2001, p. 303).

Principles of confidentiality

There are various cases that have established the principles for deciding what specifies confidentiality. in a legal ruling, Lord Green stated that such information must have the necessary quality of confidence about it. It should be imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence. In a later case, Lord Goff added to these principles and decided that for a duty of confidence to arise the information must not already be in the public domain. It must be in the public interest to protect the information (Re C (HIV testing) [1999] 2 ...
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