Go to content

Defining the physician’s duty to warn: consensus statement of Ontario’s Medical Expert Panel on Duty to Inform


Ontario's Medical Expert Panel on duty to inform was formed to consider the duty of Ontario physicians in circumstances where a patient threatens to kill or cause serious bodily harm to a third party. The panel was concerned about the implications of any duty to inform on the integrity of the physician-patient relationship, particularly with respect to confidentiality. The panel agreed that regulations safeguarding the confidentiality of patient information ought to be changed only if there is a critical reason for doing so, but, after deliberation, the panel members concluded that the need to protect the public from serious risk of harm is a paramount concern that should supersede the duty of confidentiality. The recommendations reported here were endorsed in principle by the panelists and the groups they represented (the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Medical Protective Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the Ontario College of Family Physicians and the Ontario Medical Association) and are being implemented by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.



Ferris LE, Barkun H, Carlisle J, Hoffman B, Katz C, Silverman M. CMAJ. 1998; 158(11):1473-9.

View Source

Contributing ICES Scientists

Research Programs

Associated Sites