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Confidentiality of patient information

CONFIDENTIALITY Principle: our pharmacists respect the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of professional practice relating to a patient and may not disclose such information except under certain prescribed circumstances.  In adhering to this principle the following is taken into consideration:

Our pharmacists shall restrict access to information relating to a patient to those who, in his/her professional judgment, need that information in the interests of the patient or in the public interest

Our pharmacist shall ensure that anyone who has access to information relating to a patient;

 (a) is aware of the need to respect its confidential nature;

 (b) does not disclose such information without the written consent of the patient.

If our pharmacists judge it necessary to disclose information relating to a patient, the content should be limited to the specific matter involved.

The following are guidelines regarding circumstances when information might need to be disclosed:

(a) Where the information is to be shared with others who participate in, or assume responsibility for, the care or treatment of the patient, and would be unable to provide that care or treatment without that information (the need-to-know concept).

 (b) Where disclosure of the information is to a person or body that is empowered by statute to require such a disclosure; for example, in connection with a scheduled medicine or a notifiable disease.

(c) Where disclosure is directed by the presiding officer of a court. It should be noted that such a direction relates to disclosure only to the person presiding or to a person named by the court.

(d) Where necessary for the purpose of a medical research project, which has been approved by a recognised ethics committee.

(e) Rarely, where disclosure is justifiable on grounds of public interest; for example, to assist in the prevention, detection of or prosecution for serious crime or where disclosure could prevent a serious risk to public health.

(f) Where necessary to prevent serious injury or damage to the health of a third party.

(g) If a pharmacist is of the opinion that disclosure of the information requested might cause serious harm to the patient's physical or mental health or well-being, he/she may allow access to this information if the requester can prove to his/her satisfaction that adequate provision is made for counselling or arrangements as are reasonable before or during or after the disclosure of such information to alleviate or avoid such harm to the patient.


If the condition of the patient precludes the seeking of his/her consent, for example, through unconsciousness, mental handicap, psychiatric illness, dementia or brain injury, the assessment in the best interests of the patient, should take into account any known wishes of the patient, the patient's next of kin, any other relative and anyone with power of attorney.

Where the patient is a minor, the pharmacist may have to decide in the minor's best interests whether to release information to a parent or guardian without the consent of the minor.

Where necessary, any disclosure and its extent should be recorded on the patient's record. 1.3.8 None of the above precludes the collation of data from patient records, on condition that it is presented anonymously, for the purpose of research or as information to an interested commercial source; however strict confidentiality shall be maintained with respect to all details relating to both the patient and the prescriber. This would include confidentiality not only of names and addresses, but also telephone numbers and postal codes.