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Patient privacy and conflicting legal and ethical obligations in El Salvador: reporting of unlawful abortions

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Postabortion care providers who breach patient confidentiality endanger women's health and violate ethics. A 1998 abortion ban in El Salvador likely spurred an increase in the number of women investigated, because many women were reported to legal authorities by health care providers. Having analyzed safeguards of confidentiality in laws and ethical guidelines, we obtained information from legal records on women prosecuted from 1998 to 2003 and identified factors that may lead to reporting through a survey of obstetrician-gynecologists (n=110). Although ethical and human rights standards oblige providers to respect patients' privacy, 80% of obstetrician-gynecologists mistakenly believed reporting was required. Most respondents (86%) knew that women delay seeking care because of fear of prosecution, yet a majority (56%) participated in notification of legal authorities.

Journal: Am J Public Health
ISSN: 0090-0036
Issue: 11
Volume: 96
Pages: 1927-33
Publication year:2006
Keywords:Abortion, Criminal/statistics & numerical data, Confidentiality/ethics, Conflict of Interest, Criminal Law, Deception, Disclosure/ethics, El Salvador, Ethics, Medical, Female, Gynecology/ethics, Health Care Surveys, Humans, Law Enforcement, Mandatory Reporting/ethics, Obstetrics/ethics, Patient Acceptance of Health Care/psychology, Pregnancy, Public Health Administration/ethics, Social Responsibility, Women's Health/ethics, Women's Rights/ethics