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Caldicott Principles

The Caldicott Principles are protocols that have been nationally agreed on patient confidentiality and form the Department of Health guidance on The Protection and Use of Patient Information.

Principle 1

Justify Purpose(s) – Individuals, departments and organisations must justify the purpose(s) for which information is required. This includes justifying the purposes to the public for specific patients within each organisation. Every proposed use or transfer of patient-identifiable information within or from an organisation should be clearly defined and scrutinised, with continuing uses regularly reviewed by an appropriate guardian.

Principle 2

Don’t use patient-identifiable information unless it is absolutely necessary. This means assessing information flows and uses and ensuring that patient-identifiable information is removed unless a genuine case can be made for its inclusion and there is no alternative. The need for patients to be identified should be considered at each stage of satisfying the purpose(s).

Principle 3

Use the minimum necessary patient-identifiable information. Where use of patient-identifiable information is considered to be essential, each individual item of information should be considered and justified so that the minimum amount of identifiable information is transferred or accessible as necessary for each given function to be carried out.

Principle 4

Access to patient-identifiable information should be on a strict need-to-know basis. Only those individuals who need access to patient-identifiable information should have access to it, and they should only have access to the information items they need to see. This may mean introducing access controls or splitting information flows where one information flow is used for several purposes.

Principle 5

Everyone with access to patient-identifiable information should be aware of their responsibilities. Action should be taken to ensure that those handling patient-identifiable information, both clinical and non clinical staff, are made fully aware of their responsibilities and obligations to respect patient confidentiality.

Principle 6

Understand and comply with the law. Every use of patient-identifiable information must be lawful. Someone in each organisation handling patient information should be responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with legal requirements.

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