Health data privacy and confidentiality rights: crisis or redemption?

Translated title of the contribution: Direito à vida privada e à confidencialidade de dados de saúde: crise ou redenção?

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Although widely analyzed by authors and theoretically valued by the public, the right to health data confidentiality seems to be more of an academic figure than a real protected right. This happens due to intrinsic problems with the practical enforcement of some patient's rights, but is getting more notorious in contemporary society. This article describes the rights to health data privacy and confidentiality in their classical contours, focusing on areas of consensus and controversy and analyzing the recent transformations in society that are causing a crisis in these same rights. We agree that there are reasons to believe that there are no novel legal instruments in Health Law to redeem these rights, except for European Data Protection Law. Here, we briefly analyze the new European data protection draft regulation, which intends to bring reinforced tools on this domain. We conclude that the juridical aura that still embraces the right to medical and genetic data confidentiality in Health Law and Bioethics seems to no longer have a practical sense. However, despite this perception, the essential dimension of individual freedom relating to personal information and to the notion that the less is known about us the freer we all are is still very relevant and so Health Law needs to dedicate more attention to the transformations of privacy and confidentiality in the medical and genetic fields in order to maintain them protected and respected.

Translated title of the contributionDireito à vida privada e à confidencialidade de dados de saúde: crise ou redenção?
Original languageMultiple languages
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalRevista Portuguesa de Saúde Pública
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014


  • European data protection law
  • Health data
  • Health data protection and security
  • Patient's rights
  • Right to confidentiality
  • Right to privacy


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