The principles of medical confidentiality have been laid down by the Department of Health and Social Security to protect patients from unauthorised disclosure of confidential information, whether it is stored in traditional medical notes or in computers. Special arrangements have been made for the records of patients with sexually transmitted diseases since the inception of the service in 1916. In these cases medical secrecy is protected by statute law. Special regulations exist to allow disclosure of certain details to doctors, or persons employed under the direction of doctors, to facilitate contact tracing and treatment. Confidentiality is maintained in the specialty by the storage of records in the clinics, the refusal to allow information to be given outside the clinics except in special circumstances, the training of the clinic staff, and the absence of any central record of patients.
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