Principle 4: trust and confidentiality
This principle focuses on trust, confidentiality and honesty.
- Trust is a core professional value in nurses' and midwives' relationships with patients and colleagues.
- Confidentiality and honesty form the basis of a trusting relationship between the nurse or midwife and the patient. Patients have a right to expect that their personal information remains private.
- Nurses and midwives exercise professional judgment and responsibility in circumstances where a patient's confidential information must be shared.
Standards of conduct
- You must try to develop relationships of trust with patients.
- Honesty, integrity and trustworthiness must underpin your dealings with patients and colleagues.
- You should give honest, truthful, balanced information and advice to patients. Information and advice should be based on best evidence or best available practice standards.
- You must behave in a way that strengthens the public's trust and confidence in nurses and midwives. You should respect and uphold a patient's expectation that their personal information will remain private. You should use your professional judgment and act responsibly when you have to disclose and share information. There may be exceptional circumstances where you might need to share confidential information. You might have to share confidential information if it is: required by law to do so, to protect the patient's interests, to protect the interests of society, or to protect the interests of other people. In these circumstances, you must only disclose the minimum amount of information necessary to the appropriate person.
- You should tell patients (unless this could cause them serious harm) if you intend to share confidential information about them with others who are outside the immediate care team.
- If the patient is considered to be incapable of giving or withholding consent to the disclosure of confidential information about them, you should consider whether disclosing the information to those close to the patient is what the patient would want or if it is in their best interests.
- Your role in safeguarding confidentiality extends to all forms of record management including appropriate use of information technology and social media.
The disclosure of information for the protection of children and the elderly against abuse is directed by legislation (such as the Children's Act 2001) and national policy. Key legislation for disclosure include the Data Protection Acts (1988 and 2003) and the Freedom of Information Acts (1997 and 2003).
An employer's information technology, record management and electronic access policies may also provide additional requirements about confidentiality and information sharing.
Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives
(PDF, 0.32 MB)