Confidence and conflicts of duty in surgery

John Coggon, Robert Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper offers an exploration of the right to confidentiality, considering the moral importance of private information. It is shown that the legitimate value that individuals derive from confidentiality stems from the public interest. It is re-assuring, therefore, that public interest arguments must be made to justify breaches of confidentiality. The General Medical Council's guidance gives very high importance to duties to maintain confidences, but also rightly acknowledges that, at times, there are more important duties that must be met. Nevertheless, this potential conflict of obligations may place the surgeon in difficult clinical situations, and examples of these are described, together with suggestions for resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-7
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Confidentiality
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Ethics, Clinical
  • General Surgery
  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Truth Disclosure


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