Conditional shared confidentiality in mental health care
Axel Liégeois, Marc Eneman
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Because of the development towards community care, care providers not only exchange information in a team, but increasingly also in networks. This is a challenge to confidentiality. The ethical question is how care providers can keep information about the care receiver confidential, whilst at the same time exchanging information about that care receiver in a team or network? Can shared confidentiality be extended from a team to a network? To clarify this question, the article refers to the advice of an expert ethics committee in mental health care. The advice regards exchange of information in a network as a further step in enhancing collaboration among care providers. Therefore, the good and evident practice of shared confidentiality in a team can be extended to a network if the same conditions are met. First, the care providers participate in a clearly defined and identifiable team or network. Secondly, they have a shared care responsibility. Thirdly, they have a duty of confidentiality. Fourth, they dialogue with the care receiver and obtain his or her consent. Finally, they apply the filter of relevance. Hence, conditional shared confidentiality is an ethical justification for the exchange of information in a team or network.