Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors may sometimes disclose a patient’s genetic information to relatives without permission

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 13 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2025
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    Doctors may sometimes need to disclose confidential information to family members of a patient with an inherited disease against the patient’s wishes, advises the United Kingdom’s biggest organisation for advising and defending doctors.

    The latest advice from the Medical Defence Union says that doctors should always ask the patient for permission to pass on the information to relatives. But occasionally patients will refuse, and in those cases doctors will need to be aware of their ethical obligations and “balance the patient’s right to confidentiality against potential harm to family members if they are not informed.”

    The guidance (“Does it Run in the Family?”) appears in the April 2010 issue of Ward …

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