Unfortunately, this basic and obvious right is frequently violated in the case of people with cancer. Practitioners often reveal important facts about these people to close friends or relatives without the patient's permission and, even worse, without giving the same information to the person with cancer. There can be no justification for this except where that person has completely lost his or her mental faculties. Such a person could not be reading this book, so the following applies to you.
You have the right to determine who is given information about you. Your doctor (and hopefully any other practitioner) is ethically obliged to get your permission before giving information to anyone else. It is usual to take your permission for granted in the case of other health professionals directly involved in your case. For example, other doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and so on who are personally involved in your care would not usually need formal permission to have medical and other relevant information about you. Each of these health professionals, however, is obliged to treat such information as completely confidential. They are not entitled to tell any of it to anyone else without your specific permission. The only other circumstance in which your doctor could take your permission for granted is when you bring a friend or relative into the consulting room with you. However, the doctor must still obtain your permission to give information even to these people when you ìØ not present.



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