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The Caldicott report and patient confidentiality
  1. M A Crook
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M A Crook, Guy’s, St Thomas’s, and University Hospital Lewisham, London SE13 6LH, UK;martin.crook{at}

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An introduction for the pathologist

In 1997, the Caldicott committee presented its report on patient confidentiality.1 The impetus behind this were concerns about patient information and security.2,3 For example, there had been reports in the press that patient hospital records could be freely accessed and that patient notes had ended up lying around in village streets for all and sundry to read.

The committee came up with six main principles as follows.

  1. One should justify the purpose of holding patient information.

  2. Information on patients should only be held if absolutely necessary.

  3. Use only the minimum of information that is required.

  4. Information access should be on a strict need to know basis.

  5. Everyone in the organisation should be aware of their responsibilities.

  6. The organisation should understand and comply with the law.

National Health Service (NHS) organisations should have Caldicott guardians who have responsibilities to safeguard and govern the use of patient information. The guardian is usually a board level health professional …

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