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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 48 (2006) 10, 787 - 795


Sharing information among carers involved in mental health care: ethical advice

A. Liegéois, A. Haekens, M. Eneman

summary This article reproduces ethical advice given by the Ethical Committee for Mental Health Care set up by the Brothers of Charity in Flanders. The advice relates to the ethical problem that arises when several health care professionals and carers cooperate in mental health care: when and how should they share information about a patient or should information be kept confidential? The research on which the advice was based, consists of discussing ethical matters and studying the relevant literature. Two general principles emerged from the research, namely, consultation and carefulness. These principles are applicable in all situations. On every occasion the involved professionals and carers test whether patient information should be passed on. The test is conducted on the basis of ten carefulness criteria. The next step is to apply these general principles. If a team of carers is involved, then, it is argued, there should be shared confidentiality, the relevance of which undergoes a filtering process. On the other hand, when there is a network of professionals and carers and third parties are involved, consultation and carefulness should prevail, although exceptions can be made in certain circumstances.

keywords confidentiality, ethics, information