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Disclosing information to patients’ relatives or carers

You should discuss with the patient what information they want you to share, with whom, and in what circumstances. This will be important if the patient has fluctuating or diminished capacity or is likely to lose capacity, even temporarily. This can help to avoid disclosures that patients would object to. It can also help to avoid misunderstandings with relatives or carers.
If anyone close to the patient wants to discuss their concerns about the patient’s eye health, you should tell them, before they begin, that you might need to tell the patient about the conversation if the information affects your care of the patient.
You should not refuse to listen to a patient’s relatives or carers on the basis of confidentiality. The information they provide might be helpful in your care of the patient. You should, however, consider whether it would be a breach of your patient’s trust to do this, especially if they have asked you not to listen to particular people.
The phrase ‘next of kin’ has no legal definition or status. You should not share information with a person who the patient nominates as their next of kin unless the patient has authorised you to do so.