Duty of confidentiality

Health personnel have a duty of confidentiality. They 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.

Safeguarding your medical information

​As a patient, you have to share medical information about yourself. For example, when you talk to your GP, 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.

What kind of information about you is confidential?

Information about your health condition and other personal conditions such as marital status, financial and social conditions is confidential information. The fact that you have an appointment with a psychologist or are admitted to a hospital are other examples of information that is basically.

What does it mean that healthcare personnel have a duty of confidentiality?

Among other things, duty of confidentiality means that healthcare 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 healthcare personnel from their duty of confidentiality by consenting to your medical information being disclosed.

The healthcare personnel are responsible for providing you with sufficient information so that you understand what the consent entails.

Before you decide to consent, you have the right to be informed about

  • to whom the information is to be communicated
  • which information is to be passed on
  • what consequences the passing on of the information may have

Parents can consent for children under 16 years of age.

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 have the right to object to information being shared with other healthcare personnel. If you object, inform the treatment center about this.

It must be clear from your patient record that other health personnel have been given access to information. 

Safeguarding life and health

When the life of the patient or others is in danger, health care personnel are obliged to notify.

Healthcare personnel's obligation to provide information applies to:

  • 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
  • the police, when necessary to prevent certain criminal offences.

Breach of the duty of confidentiality

​If healthcare personnel share personal information about you that they have obtained in their capacity as healthcare personnel, for example in a social context, they have not complied with their duty of confidentiality. It is also not permitted to discuss your health situation and illness with colleagues if they do not cooperate with your health care.

If you believe that medical personnel have breached their duty of confidentiality, you can ask the county governor ("Statsforvalteren") 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

The Norwegian Directorate of Health. Duty of confidentiality. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Friday, March 17, 2023 [retrieved Thursday, June 13, 2024]. Available from: https://www.helsenorge.no/en/health-rights-in-norway/duty-of-confidentiality/

Last updated Friday, March 17, 2023