Doctor-patients’ confidentiality is central in the daily work of doctors. It secures the patients’ integrity and maintains their trust in doctors. But what do you do when the police want confidential information? I have researched what the law says about giving information to the police when the patient cannot or will not give consent. I have looked at the following cases: a) the patient is unconscious and the doctor suspects abuse, b) the police wants information whether a person has been admitted to hospital, c) the police wants information bout a missing person. I have interviewed one policeman and two doctors to shed a light on the matter. The law will be discussed, The Health Personnel Act §§ 23.4 and 31 in particular.
Cooperation between doctors and police is generally considered to be good. It is important to get consent early and confer with colleagues or lawyers when in doubt. Knowing that the intention behind the law is to make good and correct decisions is important. The law has to be general to include many different situations, and it may therefore be considered unclear how to act in different situations.
It is important that the police explain why they need the information. Finally, the reason for breaking the confidentiality must weigh considerably heavier than the reason to keep the confidentiality. At the end of the day, it is in the end the doctor’s decision and he therefore must have the required knowledge to make the right one.