Physicians have a legal and professional obligation to maintain the confidentiality of patient information. There are certain circumstances, however, where physicians are legally required to disclose patient information. These reporting obligations, known as mandatory reports, may arise in the following circumstances: child abuse or neglect, impaired driving ability, long-term care and retirement homes, sexual abuse of a patient, births, stillbirths, and deaths, communicable and reportable diseases, controlled drug and substances, and gunshot wounds.
This is not an exhaustive list of physicians’ mandatory reporting obligations, and physicians should consult a comprehensive guide to reporting obligations in their respective jurisdictions.
Physicians are generally protected from legal, disciplinary, or other proceedings for complying in good faith with reporting obligations and are encouraged to tell patients about their reporting duties to facilitate a trusting physician-patient relationship.
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