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Confidentiality

Peter Ellis - Author Hannah Ellis First published: Last updated:

Confidentiality is one of the central tenets of the nurse–patient relationship. It is a critical component of health and social care, and is often mentioned in job descriptions as a core function of the nursing role.

Confidentiality is a feature of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Code (NMC, 2018), which outlines that nurses may only share patient information with other staff if it is in the best interests of the patient, where patient safety requires it or where there is an overriding public safety issue which needs addressing.

It is important, therefore, that nurses understand what confidentiality is and what it requires of them from a professional, ethical and legal standpoint.

This article is part of a series on nursing ethics. This article provides an overview of confidentiality in nursing practice and should not be used as a legal guide.

Defining confidentiality

Confidentiality is difficult to define, because it has

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Peter Ellis

Hannah Ellis