The 8 Caldicott Principles and What They Are

The Caldicott principles are a set of rules that organisations should follow to protect any information about patients. This would include things like their name and records, and ensure only appropriate people can access this data when it is needed for treatment or diagnosis purposes.

How many Caldicott principles are there?

The Caldicott principles were initially six, but in April 2013 they expanded to seven. It all started with a small panel of experts who helped review the information governance for the second time and decided that it was best to add one more principle – making them seven instead of six.

The study took place over 2012-2013 and aimed at ensuring that the balance between protecting patients’ or users’ information while still being able use it when appropriate is met.

The most recent review was in December 2020 and an eighth principle, protecting the patient’s data by only sharing it when necessary for safety reasons, has been added. The expert panel concluded that a balance between sharing and protecting information about patients is needed urgently to protect their interests as well as those of both users alike. The Caldicott principles are regularly reviewed.

What are the Caldicott principles?

  1. Justify the purpose(s) for using confidential information.
  2. Only use confidential information when absolutely necessary.
  3. Use the minimum information that is required.
  4. Access to confidential information should be on a strict need-to-know basis.
  5. Everyone with access to confidential information should be aware of their responsibilities
  6. Comply with the law.
  7. The duty to share personal information can be as important as the duty to have regard for patient confidentiality.
  8. Inform patients and service users about how their confidential information is used.

It is important to learn about these principles in more detail.

Principle 1 – Justify the purpose(s) for using confidential information.

In order to keep confidential information safe, it is important that all proposed ways of using or transferring the data be clearly defined and monitored. This includes ongoing reviews by a appropriate guardian for the situation.

It’s important to make sure you are aware of how your data will be used, and what type of access others may have to it once it leaves your possession. This means being mindful not only about who has physical access but also people involved in its digital transfer.

Principle 2 – Only use confidential information when absolutely necessary.

Confidential information should not be included unless it is necessary for the specified purpose(s) and alternatives should always be considered.

The need to identify individuals at each stage of satisfying your needs will help you do so without risking their identity in any way, shape or form.

Principle 3 – Use the minimum information that is required.

When using confidential information, each item of the information must be justified so that it only includes the minimum amount of personally identifiable information for given function.

The principle means that you should always think about why you’re collecting the data and what it will be used for, then make sure your processes are in place to minimise risk of misuse or unauthorised access.

Principle 4 – Access to confidential information should be on a strict need-to-know basis.

Access to confidential information, such as personal data, should be restricted as much as possible. Only those who need access will have it, and then only for the items they require.

This may mean introducing more strict protocols or splitting up information sources in order to streamline accessibility where one flow is used for many purposes.

Principle 5 – Everyone with access to confidential information should be aware of their responsibilities.

To ensure that all those handling personal confidential data understand their responsibilities and obligations to respect the confidentiality of patient information and service users, an action should be taken.

Principle 6 – Comply with the law.

Every use of confidential information must be lawful. All those handling confidential information, such as personally identifiable data are responsible for ensuring that their use of and access to that information complies with legal requirements set out in statute and under the common law.

Principle 7 – The duty to share personal information can be as important as the duty to have regard for patient confidentiality.

Confidential information should be shared between health and social care professionals in the best interests of patients and service users within a framework set by these principles.

These policies should be supported by organisations employers, regulators, or professional bodies to ensure confidence for all parties involved.

Principle 8 – Inform patients and service users about how their confidential information is used.

A range of steps should be taken to ensure no surprises for patients and service users, so they can have clear expectations about how and why their confidential information is used, and what choices they have about this.

These steps will vary depending on the use: as a minimum, this should include providing accessible, relevant and appropriate information – in some cases, greater engagement will be required.

What was the Caldicott report?

The Caldicott Report was a review commissioned in 1997 by the Chief Medical Officer of England. The focus of the report, as expected for any thorough study on privacy and confidentiality, is to examine how patient information should be used within healthcare institutions.

Any time there are advancements with technology that could potentially undermine this promise- such as distributing sensitive medical information quickly- it’s important to have an authoritative body like government officials or professional organizations take up these concerns so they can work toward a solution together.

Further information about the Caldicott report can be found here

FAQ

Are there 8 Caldicott Principles?

The Caldicott principles were initially six until 2013. The founder of the Caldicott principles, Dame Fiona Caldicott reviewed information governance most recently in 2020 and this resulted to eight important rules instead of only six before that.

Do Caldicott principles apply to the deceased?

The Data Protection Act only applies to living individuals. However, the Caldicott principles also apply to records and information regarding deceased persons.

Who does the Caldicott Principles apply to?

These principles apply to the use of confidential information within health and social care organisations, for example the NHS. Confidentiality is vital for both individual care, as well as other purposes like sharing with other organisations or among individuals.

What are the Caldicott principles for?

The Caldicott principles are the basic rules every healthcare personnel must follow to ensure there is no breach of confidentiality whatsoever. These fundamental guidelines will keep patient’s information confidential, and they provide a clear framework for those who work with personal data.