Doctors told to break confidentiality of patients with knife injuries by nanny state

Doctors are being told to report patients who come to them with knife injuries to the police and disregard their confidentiality under new guidelines.

The doctor’s regulatory body, the General Medical Council (GMC), says even cases involving children with apparently accidental cuts should be reported. Currently, medics are only required to pass on to police details of patients with gunshot wounds.

Dr Henrietta Campbell, who chaired the GMC’s working group on confidentiality, which issued the guidelines, said: “Confidentiality is central to trust between patients and doctors, but it is still an area of ethics which challenges doctors more than any other.

“We are not asking doctors to force patients to speak to the police, but we are asking them to pass on information which will help the police protect patients, the public and staff from risks of serious harm.”

“There are occasions when disclosure of certain information may be justified, even if the patient refuses to consent.”

The guidelines will also say that patients with inherited conditions who want to keep their condition secret can be overruled. “Doctors should explain to a patient if their family might be at risk of inheriting a condition,” Dr Campbell added. “However, if a person refuses, it is the doctor’s responsibility to protect those who may be at risk.”

Doctors will also be advised to pass on patient details to other bodies, such as telling the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency if a patient is not fit to drive, or passing on information relating to benefit claims.

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