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Privacy and confidentiality

Protecting patient information

Overview and objectives

Two hands cupping the word "Privacy"


Confidentiality is:
  • a cornerstone of medical ethics
  • fostered by Canadian law
  • important to patient safety

Patients share sensitive, often intimate information with their doctors. Physicians, in turn, have an obligation to keep all patient information confidential.

Confidentiality encourages the patient to provide the doctor with all relevant information. This helps the physician to determine the diagnosis and treatment, and reduces the possibility of harm for the patient.


After completing this topic you will be able to:
  • Describe the circle of care.
  • List two common types of breaches in confidentiality.
  • Explain mandatory reporting.
  • Discuss permissible (in law termed "permissive") exceptions to confidentiality.
  • Evaluate the risks associated with eCommunication.
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A Statement of Completion or CME credits are available.