mHEALTH-INNOVATE (22) What can we learn from health workers' informal use of mobile phones? (13) Patient confidentiality

16 April, 2022

The UK General Medical Council has excellent advice on sharing risks and benefits and on managing confidentiality which is part of all undergraduate and graduate training. The same advice surely applies to the use of mobile phones and confidentiality of personal data.

Decision making and consent - ethical guidance - GMC (

Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information - ethical guidance - GMC (

Confidentiality is not absolute! If it was, health service providers would know nothing about anybody and would not treat nobody at all. Confidentiality is a balance and citizens are and should be part of the process of deciding what is and what is not confidential for them - and for civic society generally - two similar but dynamic concepts and systems.

As health professionals, The WHO, and governments and society move to truly more patient centred care, patients are given more information and asked to make more choices about confidentiality supported by easily understood stories -, pictures and information. .

1.5 million people die in road traffic accidents every year and far more are severely mainmed by road traffic accidents yet we do not stop patients making decisions to buy cars. The children of parents who live in cities are unable to walk far to play or to meet friends because of the fear of traffic car accidents = yet this risk is not discussed when car warehouses and adverts sell cars.

'Shared decision making and consent are fundamental to good medical practice.

This guidance explains that the exchange of information between doctor and patient is essential to good decision making. Serious harm can result if patients are not listened to, or if they are not given the information they need - and time and support to understand it - so they can make informed decisions about their care.

This guidance will support you in your conversations with your patients; and help you to be confident you’re sharing the information they need to make decisions that are right for them. By following it, it will help you make sure that you have informed consent from your patient.

It has advice on:

What you should tell a patient when talking about risks.'

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT