Minnesota Journal of International Law
Physician-patient confidentiality is a notion deeply rooted in most medical traditions throughout the world. 2 Many nations have codified patient protections and rights with statutes that emphasize the inviolability of this confidence. 3 Physicians are prohibited, except in limited circumstances, to reveal any confi-dential information or communication. 4 Violating confiden-tiality often exposes the physician to professional, civil, and sometimes criminal sanctions. 5 Confidentiality is designed to protect the patient's most intimate information as well as foster a candid relationship between physician and patient to facilitate successful diagnosis and treatment. 6 And yet despite the raison d'etre of confidentiality laws and ethical rules protecting confidentiality, there are circumstances in which exceptions do and ought to exist. This article will argue for an exception to medical confidentiality where such secrets may assist in proving the existence of torture and other grave human rights abuses, or where it may lead to the conviction of those individuals who commit such acts.
David Weissbrodt, Ferhat Pekin, and Amelia Wilson, Piercing the Confidentiality Veil: Physician Testimony in International Criminal Trials Against Perpetrators of Torture, 15 Minn. J. Int'l L. 43 (2006), available at http://scholarship.law.umn.edu/faculty_articles/367.