Confidentiality is highly advocated in health care. However, similar to other ethical obligations, is not absolute. According to 6th edition of Law and Ethics for the Health Care Professions, it is sometimes overridden for the benefit or protection of the patient or general public. Data confidentiality is overridden when it is handed over as the law specifies. Doctors are required to understand these laws to avoid breaching it (Judson et al, 2012). It is ethical when physicians discuss this matter with their patients prior to disclosing information deemed confidential. If the situation forces to override confidentiality of the information, it should be ensured that probable harm is kept to the lowest level possible for the patient. It should also be within the federal and state laws (Judson et al, 2012). Although it is uncomfortable, information that is critical and essential to the patients must also be disclosed.
When, how and to whom to disclose the data, is also an essential consideration that ought to be executed following the patients’ desires. Everyone is entitled to access information. This is governed by legal restrictions. There are cases that patients allow their physicians to disclose a specified level of information to family members or selected individuals.
Safeguarding the patient’s confidence is subject to prone exceptions, which are legally and ethically justifiable because of the overriding social considerations (Judson et al, 2012). For instance, when there exists a rational probability that patients may inflict extreme or bodily harm on other individuals, the physician is obliged to take precautions to secure intended victims. He is also obliged to inform law enforcement authorities on time when the situation may be tough to handle individually. Communicable diseases, gunshot and cut wounds, ought to be reported as mandated by applicable ordinances or statutes. Therefore, the physician's responsibility for confidentiality should sometimes surrender to a critical countervailing societal interest (Judson et al, 2012).