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Health personnel's duty of confidentiality

Heath personnel are bound by a duty of confidentiality. This means that they must prevent information about patients' health or other personal matters from being disclosed to others. The duty of confidentiality also applies to the patients' next-of-kin, but parents are entitled to information about children under the age of 16 years for whom they have parental responsibility.

A patient may nonetheless consent to health personnel disclosing confidential information. Parents may consent to information being disclosed when a child is under the age of 16. For persons over the age of 16 who are not in a position to consent to health care, for example because they are unconscious, their next-of-kin may consent to health information being disclosed to others.

Health personnel may disclose confidential information to other health personnel if this is necessary in order to give the patient adequate health care.

Regardless of the duty of confidentiality, health personnel have a duty to inform the child welfare service if there is reason to believe that a child is being abused at home, or that there are other forms of serious neglect. Health personnel also have a duty to notify the police or the fire service if this is necessary in order to prevent serious injury to persons or damage to property.

When the duty of confidentiality is set aside, the patient is in most cases entitled to be informed about who the information has been disclosed to and what information has been disclosed.

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