Knowledge of and attitude toward patient confidentiality within three family medicine teaching units

Acad Med. 1998 Jun;73(6):710-2. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199806000-00021.


Purpose: To describe the knowledge and attitudes about confidentiality issues within family medicine teaching units (FMUs) at McGill University.

Method: The authors surveyed McGill University FMU staff (physicians, nurses, and support staff) on their knowledge of and attitudes toward confidentiality issues.

Results: The response rate was 84%. Only one of nine questions on confidentiality laws was correctly answered by more than 80% of the respondents. Only 55% of the support staff knew that police are not permitted free access to charts, although the majority of those who answered incorrectly held attitudes that were consistent with the law. Only approximately 25% knew that physicians and nurses are not permitted free access to any medical record within the center. There were minimal differences between the professions or between the FMUs.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that FMU staff do not fully understand their obligations towards patient confidentiality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Confidentiality / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Ethics, Medical / education
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Family Practice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hospitals, Teaching*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Legislation, Medical
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States