Law and Ethics, Patients Rights in Practice

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This paper, which describes a nursing students experience in a hospital setting, explores how patient’s rights outlined in the Queensland Health Public Patients Charter (2002), were followed by health care providers at Cairns Private Hospital. Incidences where health professionals demonstrated good practice with respect to patient’s rights will be examined. Hospital initiatives currently in place to ensure health professionals are able to help patients to achieve better health while working within the parameters set forth in the Public Patients Charter will be illustrated. In particular, those aspects observed by the student relating to patients privacy, confidentiality and any situations which warranted a limitation to patient privacy will be described and discussed with reference to patients rights. Situations in the hospital setting where the student nurse viewed health professionals informing patients about treatment options, encouraging patients to take action in decisions about their health, and gaining informed, voluntary consent prior to procedures will be discussed. An explanation of reasons for selecting privacy and consent as two essential concepts which health providers must understand will be illustrated. The legal and ethical responsibility of health care providers in relation to the aforementioned fundamental principles of achieving patient privacy and gaining informed voluntary consent will be examined with a clear emphasis on patient’ rights. While on clinical placement, the student nurse observed health professionals maintaining patient privacy to a high standard by consistently shutting curtains around patient’s beds, lowering their voices when working with patients in rooms containing multiple beds, courteously requesting visitors to leave the room when procedures of a sensitive nature were preformed and closing patient’s doors to limit unwanted interference from hallways. In order to show patients respect, dignity and consideration, which are outlined as a fundamental patient right in the Queensland Health Public Patient’s Charter (2002), patients were consistently examined in areas that were as private as was possible at the time. This attempt by health care providers to maintain the physical privacy of all patients by consistently minimizing unwarranted outside attention is a clear demonstration of how health care providers maintained patient dignity, consideration and respect. According to the Ramsay Health Care/Cairns Private Hospital Patient Charter (nd.), patients have a right to be treated with courtesy throughout their hospital experience. The actions of the health care team correlate positively to this statement as through the maintenance of patient’s physical privacy, health care providers are demonstrating consideration for their patients and respecting their rights set forth in both the Queensland Health public patient charter and the Ramsay health care charter. Throughout the clinical placement of the student nurse, the health care facility in question demonstrated exceptional adherence to national privacy principles 4.1 set forth in the Privacy Amendment Act (2000). Initiatives currently in place at Cairns Private Hospital ensure confidentiality of both patient’s medical records as well as patient’s personal details by limiting outside access to confidential information and preventing health care professionals from transmitting such information to the broader community. One such example observed by the student nurse involves the hospitals policy preventing nurses from leaving the hospital with materials used in nursing handovers that contain information regarding patient’s condition and personal details. The destruction of such material prevents the transmission of private information to the wider community and demonstrates the role of health care providers in maintaining patient privacy. According to the national privacy principle 4.1 extracted from the Privacy Amendment...
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