Christian-Hippocratism, Confidentiality, and Managed Care: A Volatile Mix

With these words the Hippocratic Oath places confidentiality squarely in the context of the medical ethos. Confidentiality in the physician-patient relationship is a good, but not an absolute good or the so-called summum bonum. The words of the Oath also imply that certain shared admissions--like threatened mortal danger to another--may supercede the relative good of confidentiality. Protection of life is something that allows sharing of what otherwise ought not to be spoken abroad.

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Editor's note: The following article is based on stories reported by CNN and the BBC on April 10 and April 11, 2000, respectively. These articles can be accessed at and


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