Medical confidentiality

Verified 21 July 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

What information is covered by medical confidentiality? Who should respect it? Can it be lifted? What is Shared Medical Secret? We tell you what you need to know about medical confidentiality (professional secrecy) and how to file a complaint in case of violation.

Medical confidentiality covers all the information the healthcare professional has about you : your state of health (diagnosis, treatment...), your identity, what you have entrusted, what the professional has seen, heard, understood....

Every professional who knows or follows your health must respect medical confidentiality.

Examples: doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist, social worker, speech therapist.

Thus, a professional who has information about you should not communicate it to other people.


the doctor has an obligation to provide you with a fair, clear and appropriate information about your health.

The professionals who follow you can exchange the information necessary to treat you (shared medical secret).

However, you can oppose it at any time.


healthcare professionals to whom you have authorized access to your shared medical record (DMP) shall be subject to medical confidentiality.

The law provides for situations in which the doctor must communicate some information.

Thus, the doctor must in particular:

  • Declare births
  • Reporting Deaths
  • Report certain serious or contagious diseases that require urgent intervention to health authorities
  • Establishing medical certificates for psychiatric care without consent
  • Make a medical declaration to the public prosecutor when setting up a safeguard of justice
  • Establishing certificates for accidents at work and occupational diseases
  • Provide information to the administration for military and civil disability or retirement pension files
  • Transmit to the expert the documents he holds on the person who considers himself to be the victim of a damage related to a prevention, diagnosis or care activity (medical accidents, HIV, asbestos...)

The law provides for situations in which the doctor is authorized to communicate some information.

Thus, doctors may do the following:

  • Report to public prosecutor abuse or deprivation of an adult, with the consent of the adult
  • Report to public prosecutor abuse or deprivation inflicted on an adult, without his consent, in certain situations (person who is not in a state to protect himself, victim of domestic violence)
  • Report to public prosecutor abuse or deprivation of a minor
  • To transmit information relating to the situation of a minor in danger or at risk of danger to the Information of Concern Collection, Processing and Assessment Cell (CRIP)
  • Report to the prefect (in Paris, to the prefect of police) the dangerous nature of a person who he knows has a weapon or intends to acquire a weapon

The doctor must respect a minor's medical confidentiality vis-à-vis his parents.

However, when the interests of the minor so require or an important decision has to be taken, the doctor must try to convince the minor to keep his or her parents informed.

If the minor refuses, the doctor may carry out the treatment or intervention provided that the minor is accompanied by an adult of his choice.

In case of diagnosis or serious prognosis, your family, your loved ones or your trusted person may be informed of your health to support you.

However, you can oppose it.

The doctor must not give any information about you to an insurance company.

An insurer cannot ask the doctor for medical information or documents about you.

The employer cannot require information from you on your state of health.

An occupational doctor must not communicate to the employer the information which he collects during a medical examination.

Your medical record is also covered by medical confidentiality and must not be communicated to the employer.

In the event of death, the spouse and assigns can obtain medical information to know the causes of death of the deceased, to defend his memory or to have his rights recognized.

However, the deceased must not have objected to it during his lifetime.

Please note

in case of death of your minor child, you have access to all information about it. However, you do not have access to the medical decisions for which your child has refused to consult you.

You can complain if you believe that a professional has breached his obligation of medical confidentiality.

On the spot

You must go to a police station or a gendarme brigade of your choice.

Who shall I contact

You may not be refused the receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then forwarded to the public prosecutor by the police or gendarmerie.

By mail

You can file a complaint with the public prosecutor.

We need to send a free-form letter the court of law of the place of the offense or of the domicile of the offender.

Who shall I contact

The letter should specify the following:

  • Your marital status and full contact information (address and telephone number)
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Name of the alleged perpetrator if known (otherwise, the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of any witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or definitive estimate of the damage
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, miscellaneous invoices, findings ...
  • Willingness to take civil action

File a complaint with the public prosecutor

Who shall I contact

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, by simple letter or by letter followed.

You can also file your complaint directly at the courthouse.

In any case, a receipt is given to you as soon as the Public Prosecutor's Office has registered your complaint.

You can also send an email to departmental council of the college of physicians.

Your letter should state that you are making a complaint.

For to obtain compensation for the damage suffered, you can refer the health professional to the civil courts.

Violation of medical confidentiality, except in authorized cases, is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and €15,000 of fine.

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