Respecting patient privacy is a fundamental expression of respect for patient autonomy and a prerequisite for trust. Patient privacy includes personal space (physical privacy), personal data (informational privacy), personal choices, including cultural and religious affiliations (decisional privacy), and personal relationships with family members and other intimates (associational privacy). Physicians must seek to protect patient privacy in all settings to the greatest extent possible.
Audio or visual recording of patients can be a valuable tool for educating health care professionals, but physicians must balance educational goals with patient privacy and confidentiality. Physicians also have an obligation to ensure that content is accurate and complete and that the process and product of recording uphold standards of professional conduct.
Audio or visual recording of patient care for public broadcast is one way to help educate the public. However, physicians have an obligation to protect patient interests and ensure that professional standards are upheld. Physicians also have a responsibility to ensure that information conveyed to the public is complete and accurate.
Physicians have an ethical obligation to preserve the confidentiality of information gathered in association with the care of the patient. With rare exceptions, patients are entitled to decide whether and to whom their personal health information is disclosed.
Information gathered and recorded in association with the care of a patient is confidential. Disclosing information to third parties for commercial purposes without consent undermines trust, violates principles of informed consent and confidentiality, and may harm the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.