A challenge to unqualified medical confidentiality

Journal of Medical Ethics 44:medethics-2017-104359 (2017)
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Abstract

Medical personnel sometimes face a seeming conflict between a duty to respect patient confidentiality and a duty to warn or protect endangered third parties. The conventional answer to dilemmas of this sort is that, in certain circumstances, medical professionals have an obligation to breach confidentiality. Kenneth Kipnis has argued, however, that the conventional wisdom on the nature of medical confidentiality is mistaken. Kipnis argues that the obligation to respect patient confidentiality is unqualified or absolute, since unqualified policies can save more lives in the long run. In this paper, I identify the form of Kipnis’s argument and present a challenge to it. I conclude that, as matters stand now, a qualified confidentiality policy is the more rational choice.

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Alexander Bozzo
University of Wisconsin, Stout

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References found in this work

A defense of unqualified medical confidentiality.Kenneth Kipnis - 2006 - American Journal of Bioethics 6 (2):7 – 18.
Autonomy, the good life and controversial choices.Julian Savulescu - 2007 - In Rosamond Rhodes, Leslie Francis & Anita Silvers (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Medical Ethics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 17--37.
Telling the truth.J. Jackson - 1991 - Journal of Medical Ethics 17 (1):5-9.
Medicine, lies and deceptions.Piers Benn - 2001 - Journal of Medical Ethics 27 (2):130-134.
Medical confidentiality.Kenneth Kipnis - 2007 - In Rosamond Rhodes, Leslie Francis & Anita Silvers (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Medical Ethics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 104–127.

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