Doctors can breach professional secrecy if a patient won’t quarantine
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Doctors can breach professional secrecy if a patient won’t quarantine

Credit: Belga

If a patient refuses to abide by quarantine, the doctor can breach professional secrecy if there is a serious threat to public health, the National Council of the Order of Doctors advised on Friday.

Persons who may have contracted COVID-19 must undergo compulsory testing. But patients also have the right to refuse a test. In such cases, however, the doctor may pass on the health data of the potentially infected patient for use in the Sciensano database, according to the council.

Refusal of a test does not, therefore, give the doctor the right to violate professional secrecy.

That is not the case with quarantine. If a patient refuses to abide by it, “the doctor must draw the patient’s attention to the danger to public health and his/her individual responsibility towards society,” the council said.

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“The doctor must also inform the patient that if he/she does not comply with the measures, this infringement can be reported to the authorities in the framework of the surveillance of infectious diseases,” he added.

“If the doctor finds that the patient poses a serious risk to the health of others due to non-compliance with the quarantine measures and if the release of information is the only way to protect public health, the doctor may violate professional secrecy if this proves necessary,” the advice said.

The Brussels Times