Duty of confidentiality

Health personnel have a duty of confidentiality and are not permitted to disclose medical information about you to others without your consent, or unless they are permitted to do so by law, for example in order to provide you with appropriate medical care.

Female nurse

Safeguarding your medical information

​As a patient, you have to share medical information about yourself. For example, when you talk to your General Practitioner, speak to reception staff at an out-of-hours medical centre, make an appointment to see a doctor, or pick up medicine from a pharmacy.

Medical personnel need this information in order to give you the help you need. It is therefore vital that you are confident that information concerning your illnesses, treatment or personal circumstances will not go astray.

Among other things, duty of confidentiality means that medical personnel:

  • are obliged not to disclose information themselves and to actively prevent unauthorised persons from gaining access to your medical information
  • are bound by duty of confidentiality regarding all information they become aware of through being a medical professional
  • continue to be bound by duty of confidentiality after they have left their job
  • are not permitted to disclose information to the police without the patient's consent unless there is a danger to life or health

Exceptions from the duty of confidentiality

Consent from you

You can partially or fully exempt medical personnel from their duty of confidentiality by consenting to your medical information being disclosed.

  • You can limit your consent to certain information, an individual diagnosis or a particular injury.
  • Medical personnel are responsible for providing you with sufficient information to enable you to understand what the consent entails.
  • You are entitled to be told who the information will be disclosed to, what information will be disclosed and the possible consequences of disclosing the information before deciding whether or not you wish to give your consent.
  • Parents are required to give their consent for children under 16.

Ensure appropriate medical care

If it is necessary in order for you to receive appropriate medical care, medical personnel may share your medical information with other medical personnel.

  • You are entitled to object to the information being shared with other medical personnel. If you do object, you must notify the treatment centre.
  • Your medical information will only be shared with medical personnel when they require the information in order to provide you with appropriate medical care. Medical personnel may disclose information to other medical personnel either within their own organisation or in external organisations.
  • Your medical records must state that other medical personnel have been given access to information. See information on access to Patient records ("Pasientjournal").

Safeguarding life and health

When the life of the patient or others is in danger, medical personnel are obliged to notify:

  • the child welfare services, when there is reason to believe that a child is being abused in the home or that a child is not being adequately cared for in some other serious way
  • the health and care services, when there is reason to believe that a pregnant woman is abusing drugs or alcohol in such a way that there is an overriding probability that the unborn child will be harmed
  • about patients who do not fulfil the medical requirements for a driving licence or other certificates
  • the police and fire service, if it is necessary in order to avoid serious injury to people or serious damage to property

Breach of the duty of confidentiality

​If you believe that medical personnel have breached their duty of confidentiality, you can ask the county governor ("Statsforvalteren", formerly known as "Fylkesmannen") to assess your case. If the county governor believes that a serious breach of the duty of confidentiality has occurred, the matter may be referred to the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision.

If the Board of Health Supervision finds that healthcare personnel has breached the duty of confidentiality, they may receive a warning. In case of serious violations, or if the healthcare personnel do not comply after having received the warning, the Board of Health Supervision may revoke the healthcare personnel's authorization, license or specialist certification.

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

Last updated Monday, June 24, 2019