Rules and rights

Professional secrecy and confidentiality

Tystnadsplikt och sekretess - engelska

When turning to the Swedish health care system, it is important to feel confident in the healthcare professionals you meet. This confidence is crucial for feeling safe and having the courage to openly talk about ailments and symptoms in order to receive the treatment you need.

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That is why all healthcare professionals within the Swedish health care system are bound by professional secrecy. The fundamental principle is that no one in the health care system is permitted to release information without the patient's consent. This applies to information regarding a patient's disease, treatment, or personal situation.

The obligation to Professional Secrecy is regulated by the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act for those who work within the Swedish government, the county councils, and the municipalities, while those who work for a private caregiver are regulated by the rules of confidentiality stated in the Patient Safety Act. Those who violate the obligation to professional secrecy can be charged in court, or be punished via other means by the authorities that regulate the Swedish Healthcare System.

All health care professionals are bound by professional secrecy amongst each other. Only those who treat the same patient are permitted to talk to each other regarding the patient's condition or personal situation. That means that a doctor is only permitted to discuss a patient's treatment with another colleague, if they are both treating the same patient.

The obligation to professional secrecy concerns all professionals within the Swedish health care system, regardless of whether it is within public or private health care, and regardless of whether they are doctors, nurses, or administrative personnel. Pharmacists are also bound to professional secrecy.

Patient medical records are also protected by confidentiality, and the only ones allowed to read a patient's medical records are the ones who are currently treating the patient in question. It does not matter if the medical records are digital or printed on paper.

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