ESL Podcast 662 – Doctor-Patient Confidentiality

Dr. Green: Can I consult you on a case of medical ethics?

Dr. Hause: Sure, I’m not a lawyer, but I can give you my opinion as another doctor.

Dr. Green: That’s what I’m looking for, your honest opinion. I have a patient who has a medical condition that can be spread to her family, but she doesn’t want to tell them about it. I don’t want to breach doctor-patient confidentiality, but I think that at least her husband should know.

Dr. Hause: That’s a tricky one. We both know that the only way we can get our patients to divulge any sensitive information is if they trust us. We can’t easily put aside that confidentiality.

Dr. Green: I know, but if she doesn’t tell her family, then they are in danger of developing serious medical problems themselves. I took the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. How can I keep her secret and adhere to the spirit of that oath?

Dr. Hause: I see what you mean. If I were you, I’d sit my patient down and tell her what you think her responsibilities are to her family. Maybe you can convince her to tell them.

Dr. Green: I’ve tried talking to her already, and she didn’t want to listen. I’ll try again. But what if she doesn’t agree?

Dr. Hause: Then you can either drop it, tell her family, or…

Dr. Green: Or what?

Dr. Hause: Hope your patient has a miraculous recovery.

Script by Dr. Lucy Tse