Volume 10, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2003
Trust, Covert Surveillance and Fiduciary Obligations
Health professionals, by agreeing to provide care, accept a fiduciary role that entails an obligation to preserve trust. We trust health professionals to be competent, to promote patient interests, and to properly utilize their discretionary power. While some health professionals argue that such activities as secretly screening for drugs or sexually transmitted diseases are necessary to fulfill their fiduciary obligations, these may actually constitute a breach of trust. In this paper, I argue that, in the specific case of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, covert surveillance is ethically justifiable and does not constitute a breach of trust and an abuse of the fiduciary relationship.