The Duty to Share Patient Information

The duty to share information can be as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality.

Vince Kuraitis and Leslie Kelly Hall released a report discussing in depth topics that concern all of us. They have emphasised and pointed out two things that are missing when talking about data sharing:

  1. The explicit recognition of a corollary duty to share patient information with other providers when doing so is the patient’s interest, and
  2. a recognition that there is potential tension between the duty to protect patient confidentiality/privacy and the duty to share – with minimal guidance on how to resolve the tension.

duty to share data

Their article refers to and discusses three main topics:

First of all, Vince and Leslie talk about the recent recognition in the UK, giving us examples from one long-awaited study commissioned by the Department of Health. They have identified the key discoveries from The Information Governance Review Report (Caldicott Review), citing in the essay:

…safe and appropriate sharing in the interests of the individual’s direct care should be the rule, not the exception.

Caldicott review initial report had suggested 6 acknowledged principles for information sharing, but now the recognition of an explicit duty to share patient information was added to the list as a seventh one.

Secondly, they emphasised on this explicit duty and the importance of it being accepted in the US.

“Why would I want to share patient information with my competitors?”

hospital CIOs are saying.

Here, we can definitely feel how FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) triumph over the care providers. It is clear that US needs a technology infrastructure to support the sharing and make it a DUTY.

Last but not least, the attention falls on the Implications of an explicit duty to share patient information in the US and the potential benefits this will bring:

  • sending a strong message to care providers about expected behaviours—hoarding patient data is not OK;
  • providing protection to providers that want to do the right thing and share patient information in good faith;
  • sending a strong message to patients about their rights;
  • providing a potential cause of action for patients when their rights are violated;
  • creating a more transparent environment

Sound intriguing? Read the whole article and the revised list of Caldicott principles here.

It’s time to do the right thing: let’s create this explicit duty to share patient information.

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