Confidentiality and the physician-patient relationship -- ethical reflections from a surgical waiting room

Med Sci Monit. 2002 Nov;8(11):SR31-4.


The physician-patient relationship is the primary focus of ethics in medicine. It is both a personal and a professional relationship that is founded on trust, confidence, dignity and mutual respect. Trust is the bridge to the physician-patient relationship, and the burden is on the physician not only to expect the patient's trust but also to build a solid foundation upon which the patient can place his or her trust. Great strides have been made by physicians in refining the physician-patient relationship especially in understanding and respecting the patients' right of self-determination regarding medical decision-making and protecting their rights of privacy and confidentiality. However, further refinements are needed on both sides regarding this relationship. Breaches of confidentiality are occurring in places like surgical waiting rooms and as a result, the physician-patient relationship is being damaged. This article identifies some legitimate concerns and offers some concrete solutions so that the physician-patient relationship can be further refined and the virtues and rights that support it can be reinforced.

MeSH terms

  • Confidentiality*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations*