Paul Vigar
Journal of Paramedic Practice, Vol. 9, Iss. 5, 05 May 2017, pp 214 - 218

Paramedics frequently have to balance patient confidentiality and patient safety.
Patient information is subject to legal, ethical and professional obligations of
confidentiality and should not be disclosed to a third party for reasons other
than healthcare, without consent. Whilst there is an imperative to preserve the
professional/patient relationship, there are occasions where this is not possible.
This article considers circumstances when confidential patient information may be
disclosed without the consent of the patient and discusses the legal, ethical and
professional aspects of decision making in this context. A clinical example from
practice is presented where an ambulance crew was called to a 50-year-old man
with type I diabetes, which is normally well controlled with insulin. He is employed
as a van driver, but has experienced two sudden hypoglycaemic episodes in 3
weeks rendering him unconscious. Once treated, he declines transport to hospital,
any onward referral or to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
through fear of having his driving licence suspended.

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