What is The Morality behind Patient Confidentiality?
Patient confidentiality is one of the pillars of modern medical profession. It implies that the medical practitioner is under the obligation to keep his patient’s medical profile confidential. The main reason is to help the patient maintain his privacy. However, there have been numerous cases of breach of such confidentiality, which has raised varying ethical implications. Further, there have been instances where the medical practitioner has felt that he needs to divulge such private information to a 3rd party. Often, this results in a dilemma, and the medical professional has to balance between maintaining the patient’s confidentiality and promoting the public good (McHale, 1993). Further, governments worldwide have passed laws that have enhanced the protection of a patient’s confidentiality. All these issues have complicated the understanding of patient morality and the morality behind it. Indeed, various stakeholders have questioned the need for such confidentiality and whether there are instances where it can be denied. However, understanding patient confidentiality requires scrutiny of a society’s moral considerations. This is because such confidentiality is more a moral issue than a professional one. Indeed, the degree to which patient confidentiality is guaranteed depends on a society’s moral code. Therefore, it is imperative that patient confidentiality reflect the moral code of the society. Values behind Patient Confidentiality
Patient confidentiality is reflective of four main values that the society holds dear (Banatar, 2003). The first of these values is with regard to the autonomy of a person. Society agrees that adult persons are autonomous. This means that they have the capacity to determine their destiny. As a result, they need to reserves the right to make decisions with regard to their lives independently. This is because they have the power to control their lives. Confidentiality, therefore, only acts to further this autonomy in the sense that it is only the adult patient who can determine how to use any medical information about himself. Often, this is in appreciation of the sensitive nature of most medical information and the damaging effect it could have on a person. Another value pertinent to the issue of patient morality is privacy. Most people prefer to keep sensitive information about themselves private. This is because of shame or vulnerability that could arise out of the transfer of such information to the public. As a result, they consider medical information private and privileged. Promise-keeping is another value at the core of patient confidentiality. In this regard, patients presume that doctors have the obligation to keep their oath concerning patient confidentiality (Banatar, 2003). As a result, most patients often assume this confidentiality implicitly with only a few seeking explicit confirmations of the same. Lastly, utility is another value that guides the principle of patient confidentiality. This value implies that medical attention is beneficial and desirable in society. Therefore, there is a need to enhance its accessibility and value in society. In this regard, upholding patient confidentiality promotes the use of medical care among individuals. This is because people prefer keeping their medical profile secret and patient confidentiality offers them such a chance. Patient confidentiality, therefore, motivates patients to undergo rigorous diagnosis since they believe that information regarding such diagnosis remains private. Patient Confidentiality and the Law
Besides the above underlying values, there has been a need for legislation to enhance the observance of patient confidentiality by medical professionals. However, laws regarding patient confidentiality...