The Expert’s Duty of Confidentiality
by Prof. Dr. med. Hermann H. Klein, Prof. Dr. med. Udo Sechtem, and Prof. Dr. med. Hans-Joachim Trappe in issue 41/2017
The well structured and informative article on fitness to drive by Klein et al. (1) unfortunately contains an incorrect and at best misleading comment on medical confidentiality where an expert report is required.
At the end of the first paragraph on page 696 of the article (1), the authors say: “If the patient asks the physician to produce a report on his or her fitness to drive, the obligation to maintain confidentiality is of course removed.” This is not the case. The patient as the person who commissions the report remains in charge. If, for example, the expert report contains information that can have a negative effect for the patient, and he or she decides not to present this report to third parties, the doctor’s duty of confidentiality remains unchanged. In such a scenario, the doctor writing the report is not authorized to inform third parties—for example, the responsible authorities—of the negative conclusion concerning for instance the patient’s driving ability in his/her report. The patient remains at leisure to find a new expert, who—in borderline cases—might come to another conclusion that is more favorable for the patient.
Dr. med. Thomas Schneider
Conflict of interest statement
The author declares that no conflict of interest exists.
|1.||Klein HH, Sechtem U, Trappe HJ: Fitness to drive in cardiovascular disease. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2017; 114: 692–702 VOLLTEXT|