This essay will discuss the need for confidentiality and the nurse’s duty to keep information he/she is privy to, confidential. Brown et al (1992) suggest that a duty of confidentiality can be described as information that is disclosed which ought not to be disclosed further except within the relevant limits. Confidentiality is generally defined as the process of the protection of personal information, and is regarded as an integral part of a nurse’s role. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) are the regulatory body of registered nurses and midwives in the United Kingdom, and clause 5 of the NMC code of professional conduct states that registrants have a duty to protect confidential information (NMC, 2006). Failure to adhere to this clause could result in removal from the register, as confidentiality is something all nurses must respect and be aware of.
So what is patient confidentiality and why is it so important? The Department of Health (2003) says “A duty of confidence arises when one person discloses information to another (e.g. patient to clinician) in circumstances where it is reasonable to expect the information will be held in confidence.” Confidential information (in the authors opinion as a healthcare student) includes but is not limited to information pertaining to an individual, e.g. name, contact details, medical details. When in a position of trust and having access to confidential information, it is a good idea to ask yourself ‘what would I regard as confidential? What information would I not like to be shared?’ which, when thinking about it, is: nothing personal that could identify you, or, something which is becoming increasingly more of a danger, leave you at risk of identity fraud. Protecting patient confidentiality is highly important to obtain and retain trust, and protect the patient, and sometimes, the patient’s family, not to mention to maintain professionalism at all times.
When a patient is under the care of a professional,...
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