Confidentiality and privacy are two of the fundamental rights of every individual. Protecting these rights with respect to every patient’s personal information is not just ethical but a legal obligation as well. One of the key components of patient and nurse relationship is the assurance that each healthcare workers hold to respect, and that is to value and safeguard every patient’s information and their privacy. But when does the breach of confidentially happen? When is the nurse required to draw the line? An example of these applies on infectious diseases and cases of abuse, where challenges occur that compels the nurse to report the incident because the patient and public’s safety outweighs individual privacy. In the article discussed on bioethics on NBC’s ER episode, nurse Carol Hathaway was trapped on an ethical dilemma, whether to respect her patient’s confidentiality by committing to what she promised and not disclosing her patient’s personal information but risking her patient’s safety or breaking it to guarantee that her patient receives the right care and treatment (Nathanson, 2000). Ethical dilemmas are perplexing and definitely not easy for everyone involved. As nurses we have the responsibility to advocate for patients, together with the commitment to practice with beneficence, which is to take positive actions to help others. In the scenario, nurse Carol has both intentions why she felt the need to breach her patient’s confidentiality but that did not come without its consequences.
Following the theoretical framework for deontology, where actions are judge whether it was right or wrong based on the morality of the action itself. Deontology supports an act if it was deemed to be truthful, fair and according to the rule, such as fidelity in keeping one’s promises and respecting the patient’s autonomy of allowing her to make her own decision, following this theory, nurse Carol’s actions will be consider wrong for
References: Nathanson, P. (2000). Betraying Trust or Providing Good Care? When is it okay to break confidentiality?. Retrieved December 14, 2012, from http://web.archive.org/web/20110706061843/http://www.bioethics.net/articles.php?viewCat=7&articleId=133 Pearlman, R. (2010). Ethics Committee and Ethics Consultation. Ethics in Medicine. Retrieved from http://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/topics/ethics.html Purtilo, R., & Doherty, R. (2011). Ethical Dimensions (5th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders.