Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this guideline may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of this guideline.
Guideline 2: Maintaining Confidentiality of Patient Information
At the outset of service, you should clearly advise patients, preferably in writing, of your professional responsibility to maintain confidential information. This may include a review of your policy on record keeping and patient access to records, communications with other health care providers, and mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect or possible danger to the patient or others.
Clarify with patients how confidential information will be managed within your professional agency or organization, within supervisory or consultative relationships, and with colleagues who may provide coverage in your absence.
When seeing legally dependent patients (e.g., minors) or more than one patient together (e.g., family or group services), clarify the ways in which individual confidences will be managed. If you are practicing in an agency or school, you should be familiar with their policy for sharing information with other parties.
Before sharing personally identifiable facts, data, or similar information with others (e.g., family members, third party payers, other agencies), secure the informed consent of the patient, preferably in writing, except as otherwise authorized or required by law (see Guideline 1).
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
- Education Law, section 6509(9) - unprofessional conduct
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(7) - failing to release requested records
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(8) - revealing information without patient consent
- Regents Rules, part 29.15 - special provisions for the professions of creative arts therapy, marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, and psychoanalysis