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Arch Hellen Med, 27(4), July-August 2010, 686-690


Confidentiality in medical practice with special emphasis on the practice of psychiatry: The legal framework

1School of Law, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
2Second Department of Psychiatry, "Attikon" General Hospital, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Medical confidentiality is one of the most crucial medical responsibilities, regardless of the specialty to which the medical practitioner belongs. Its origins stem from the recognition of medicine as both art and science. Beyond individual moral responsibility, modern organized societies have passed legislation with the specific aim of defining and protecting confidentiality. State laws have set penalties in the event that a physician does not adhere to confidentiality. Additionally, the law specifically describes the cases in which the doctor can break confidentiality and the instances when he(she) is legally obliged to do so. The Greek legal framework on confidentiality as described appears to be sufficient and complete in its commitment to medical confidentiality. Medical practitioners should familiarize themselves with the law in order to ensure increased awareness of their rights and obligations. This paper focuses on psychiatric practice since psychiatry is the medical specialty that places particular emphasis on confidentiality, especially regarding the doctor-patient relationship.

Key words: Confidentiality, Law, Penal code, Psychiatry.

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