Family secrets

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7119.1380b (Published 22 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1380

Patients have right to privacy and confidentiality

  1. Susan Bewley, Director of obstetrics1
  1. a Women's Services Directorate, St Thomas's Hospital, London SE1 7EH
  2. b Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Aberdeen Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, Aberdeen AB25 2ZB

    Editor—In Hilary Aitken's filler article the author writes about the occasion when she learnt to interview patients after asking visitors to leave.1 At the end of the piece Roger Robinson states that the BMJ thinks that patients should decide themselves who should be present at the doctor-patient interview. This may represent an idealistic view of a group of non-practising doctors with an overdeveloped sense of political correctness relating to patient autonomy. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the doctor-patient relationship, and, even unwittingly, friends and relatives can inhibit the consultation. Patients do not know in advance what doctors are going …

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