Ethics support for ethics support: the development of the Confidentiality Compass for dealing with moral challenges concerning (breaching) confidentiality in moral case deliberation

BMC Medical Ethics 25 (1):1-15 (2024)
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Abstract

Background Confidentiality is one of the central preconditions for clinical ethics support (CES). CES cases which generate moral questions for CES staff concerning (breaching) confidentiality of what has been discussed during CES can cause moral challenges. Currently, there seems to be no clear policy or guidance regarding how CES staff can or should deal with these moral challenges related to (not) breaching confidentiality within CES. Moral case deliberation is a specific kind of CES. Method Based on experiences and research into MCD facilitators’ needs for ethics support in this regard, we jointly developed an ethics support tool for MCD facilitators: the Confidentiality Compass. This paper describes the iterative developmental process, including our theoretical viewpoints and reflections on characteristics of CES tools in general. Results The content and goals of the ethics support tool, which contains four elements, is described. Part A is about providing information on the concept of confidentiality in MCD, part B is a moral compass with reflective questions, part C focuses on courses of action for careful handling of moral challenges related to confidentiality. Part D contains general lessons, best practices and tips for dealing with confidentiality in future cases. Conclusions This paper concludes with providing some lessons-learned related to developing ethics support tools and some reflections on issues of quality and normativity of ethics support tools.

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