Respecting privacy and confidentiality
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20. Respecting clients' privacy and confidentiality are fundamental requirements for keeping trust and respecting client autonomy. The professional management of confidentiality concerns the protection of personally identifiable and sensitive information from unauthorised disclosure. Disclosure may be authorised by client consent or the law. Any disclosures of client confidences should be undertaken in ways that best protect the client's trust and respect client autonomy.
21. Communications made on the basis of client consent do not constitute a breach of confidentiality. Client consent is the ethically preferred way of resolving any dilemmas over confidentiality.
22. Exceptional circumstances may prevent the practitioner from seeking client consent to a breach of confidence due to the urgency and seriousness of the situation, for example, preventing the client causing serious harm to self or others. In such circumstances the practitioner has an ethical responsibility to act in ways which balance the client's right to confidentiality against the need to communicate with others. Practitioners should expect to be ethically accountable for any breach of confidentiality.
23. Confidential information about clients may be shared within teams where the client has consented or knowingly accepted a service on this basis; the information can be adequately protected from unauthorised further disclosures; and the disclosure enhances the quality of service available to clients or improves service delivery.
24 Practitioners should be willing to be accountable to their clients and to their profession for their management of confidentiality in general and particularly for any disclosures made without their client's consent. Good records of existing policy and practice and of situations where the practitioner has breached confidentiality without client consent, greatly assist ethical accountability. In some situations the law forbids the practitioner informing the client that confidential information has been passed to the authorities, nonetheless the practitioner remains ethically accountable to colleagues and the profession.