Medicine and the Law

Patient confidentiality and disciplinary or quality assurance inquiries

Loane Skene, Paul Nisselle



Under what circumstances is it legally justifiable for patients’ confidential information to be revealed? Can a patient’s records be used without his or her consent in investigations by registration bodies of a doctor’s practice?

Article Extract

An investigation currently being undertaken by the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK raises an issue that has not to my knowledge been considered in Australia. What rights does a patient have if his or her medical records are disclosed to a registration body investigating the practices of one of its members? Similarly, what are a patient’s rights if his or her records are disclosed to a body undertaking a routine audit of a doctor’s practice – for example, to monitor the doctor’s skills or for ‘credentialling’ as a specialist practitioner?