Welcome to this module on Confidentiality in Primary Care, which is one of a series of modules in the ICGP Risk Management eLearning Programme. The purpose of the module is to support General Practitioners in delivery of healthcare, in line with current guidelines for best practice in this area. Access to the module is restricted to qualified General Practitioners and the website requires registration and an enrolment key, which is provided by the ICGP. If you are a member of the public seeking information on professional standards, please see the link below.
Medical Council:

Module Overview

External CPD Credits:  3
GMS Study Leave:  1/2 day
No. of Lessons:  5
MCQ Assessment
Certificate of Completion


This eLearning module is divided into 4 key lessons. Lessons 1-3 comprise a video presentation conveying the core material. Most presentations are under 10 minutes long to facilitate opportunistic learning. Supplementary lessons, where non-core material is presented, and relevant printable and downloadable material are also included within most lessons. Lesson 4 is a series of short Q&A videos with legal professionals, addressing common queries from GPs.
Development of this module was funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Medisec Ireland.


The 4 lessons are as follows:
  • Lesson 1: Common Errors which Lead to Breaches of Confidentiality in General Practice 
    Most breaches of confidentiality which lead to negligence claims or Medical Council complaints are accidental, and due to simple errors. This lesson highlights the most common errors and system failures, which lead to inadvertent disclosure of patient information.
  • Lesson 2: Exceptions to the Duty of Patient Confidentiality
    This lesson focuses on exceptions to the duty of patient confidentiality, and clarifies the circumstances in which a GP may, or is obliged to, disclose confidential information to other people or bodies.   
  • Lesson 3: Disclosure of Patient Information in Response to Third Party Requests 
    This lesson focuses on issues around disclosure of patient information in response to third party requests from family, insurance companies, other health professionals etc.   
  • Lesson 4: Confidentiality - Ask the Experts
    This lesson comprises a series of short videos in which legal professionals and other content experts address some common queries around matters of confidentiality in general practice.  


The Medical Council has defined eight domains of good professional practice. These domains describe a framework of competencies applicable to all doctors across the continuum of professional development from formal medical education and training through to maintenance of professional competence. Since they describe the outcomes which doctors should strive to achieve, doctors should refer to these domains throughout the process of maintaining competence. In order to assist you in planning your professional competence, ICGP eLearning highlight the domains addressed in each module as set out below. 
NOTE: While a number of ICGP modules have a tight focus on one or two domains, most modules endeavour to address all domains to some degree (low, medium, high). This is clearly displayed in the diagram below

The following links are provided to support this module and the Immunisation eLearning programme generally, and to provide you with information for patients. Some of the links are also available within the associated lesson. Content addressed in some of these links is not addressed in this module, but rather in other modules in the ICGP Immunisation eLearning Programme. (Please Note: These are third party links).
General Medical Council (GMC)

The following resources are included to support your learning and to provide you with information for patients. Many of these resources are also available within the associated lesson.
  • Guide to Professional Conduct & Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners, Medical Council 2009 [ link ]
  • A Guide to Data Protection Legislation for Irish General Practice (2011). Data Protection Working Group, ICGP/GPIT [ link ]
  • A Guide for Data Controllers. Data Protection Commissioner. [ link ] Good medical practice: Explanatory guidance. Confidentiality (2009). GMC [ link ]
  • Doctor-Patient Confidentiality, IMO Role of the Doctor Series (2011), Irish Medical Organisation [ link ]
  • Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011). Department of Children & Youth Affairs. [ link ]
  • McClean, H. Radcliffe, K. Sullivan. A. Ahmed-Jushuf, I. (2013) 2012 BASHH statement on partner notification for sexually transmissible infections Int J STD AIDS (published online 18 June 2013) [ link ]
  • Medical Fitness to Drive Guidelines (Group 1 & Group 2 Drivers), 2015, National Programme Office for Traffic Medicine, RSA [ link ]
  • Confidentiality: reporting gunshot and knife wounds. (2009) GMC [ link ]
  • Primary Care Team: Clinical Team Meeting Guidelines (2012), HSE. See Appendix 1 'Interim Guide to Information Sharing' [ link ]
  • A Plain English Guide to Legal Terms, National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) [ link ]
Last modified: Tuesday, 24 November 2015, 12:40 PM