Balancing Patient Care and Confidentiality: Considerations in Obtaining Collateral Information

Megan L. Petrik, Melodi Billera, Yuliya Kaplan, Bridget Matarazzo, Hal Wortzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Collateral information facilitates comprehensive mental health care and is consistent with recovery-oriented models of care. But providers are often faced with complex decisions about obtaining collateral information, particularly when patients do not consent to communication with third parties for information gathering. Such situations require a thoughtful balance of best clinical practices, legal and ethical responsibilities, and patient safety concerns. This column offers an overview of the clinical utility of collateral information as well as the ethical and legal regulations concerning confidentiality that guide the process of obtaining collateral information. The risk-benefit analysis process related to obtaining collateral information without patient permission is illustrated. Recommendations about clinical consultation and documentation that facilitate optimal and ethical patient care are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-224
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of psychiatric practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.


  • autonomy
  • collateral information
  • confidentiality
  • ethics
  • multi-informant data


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