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MEDICAL CONFIDENTIALITY: LEGAL AND ETHICAL ASPECTS IN GREECE

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

Respect for confidentiality is firmly established in codes of ethics and law. Medical care and the patients' trust depend on the ability of the doctors to maintain confidentiality. Without a guarantee of confidentiality, many patients would want to avoid seeking medical assistance The principle of confidentiality, however, is not absolute and may be overridden by public interests. On some occasions (birth, death, infectious disease) there is a legal obligation on the part of the doctor to disclose but only to the appropriate authorities. Permissible disclosure can be granted by the patients' consent, for example, for the purpose of insurance they may wish to take out. Moreover, there are some ambivalent situations (such as criminal acts, or notification of sexual partner in case of a patient with AIDS) for which Greek law does not include relevant provisions, and the Codes of Medical Ethics do not offer clear guidelines. Therefore, the Greek doctor is called to estimate the situation and assume full responsibility for his decision. Finally, new considerations have arisen in the context of the recent advances in the field of telemedicine and electronic archiving. The paper discusses the current situation and legislation in Greece.

Keywords: Greece; confidentiality; ethical; legal; penal

Document Type: Country Report

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00654.x

Affiliations: Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, School of Medicine, University of Athens

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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