Throughout the practice of the profession of a GP, he or she is bound to gather personal information regarding the patient. Medical records such as letters to and from other health professionals regarding the medical status of the patient, laboratory reports, hand-written clinical notes made by the GP during and after patient consultations, radiographs, telephone conversations with the patient and the likes all form part of the medical records of the patient and should be kept in confidence. However, before the obligation of confidentiality can arise, the following requisites must be satisfied. First, a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship must exist and that the information learned by the GP should arise from that doctor-patient relationship (Medical Protection Society (Spring 2006). We need to make a clear distinction between what information is within the doctor-patient privilege and what information is beyond the scope of the doctor-patient privilege.
Such information may be embarrassing for the patient when made known to the public. If the patient is not assured with the confidentiality of information, he or she will be less likely to disclose important details about his or her health to the GP. These two principles are very important to preserve the good relationship between the GP and the patient.
Confidentiality is one of the most important things that every GP has to consider in practicing his or her profession. The duty of confidence of the GP towards the patient hinges on two basic things, namely, the principle of respect for autonomy and the basic principles of the law that protects the privacy of the person. The duty of confidence between .the patient and the GP arises when the patient discloses personal information to the GP under a reasonable assurance that such information shall be kept away from the public eye. .