HomeInternational Journal on Social Innovation & Researchvol. 11 no. 1 (2020)

Confidentiality of Medical Data and Public Safety and Health

Marlon Patrick P. Lofredo



The principle of confidentiality and privacy of medical data is an important patient safeguard and is rooted in fundamental human rights and ethics principles. The call for the voluntary waiving of confidentiality and privacy by COVID+ and suspected patients by involved healthcare and legal organizations in the Philippines has put into the debate table its ethical and legal permissibility. The common rule is confidentiality and privacy of information is not absolute, and there are laws delineating specific grounds for its permissible breaching. The basic ground for breaching is the primacy of public health and safety over individual right to privacy. The common good remains the primary consideration when conflict between principles occur in cases of pandemics like COVID-19. But care must be taken to ensure that patients are not discriminated and stigmatized as a result of the breach of confidentiality and privacy of medical data. The rule of thumb given by the Philippine National Privacy Commission is gather only what is necessary and disclose only to proper authorities. Breaching does not mean disclosed data is universally accessible. Governments must ensure that confidentiality remains protected even when such right is temporarily withheld as demanded by the principles of respect for persons, human dignity, autonomy, and justice.