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What if an adult is at risk of serious harm?

There are various legal requirements to disclose information about adults who are at risk of harm. We summarise these in the Key legislation factsheet which you can find on our website at

In the guidance we say a doctor should tell an appropriate agency if an adult who lacks capacity may be at risk of, or experiencing, significant harm, unless it is not of overall benefit to the patient to do so.

If the adult has capacity to make the decision, we say doctors should abide by that adult’s wishes unless there is an overriding public interest justification for disclosing the information without consent, or the information is required by law.

You can find more detailed guidance at paragraphs 55 to 59 of Confidentiality.