Confidentiality revolves round how staff members handle confidential patient information. To enable healthcare practitioners fully understand the health condition of patients, there is the need on the part of the patient to disclose what otherwise could have been private and discreet information about them. The patients trust that whatever information is passed to the clinician is held in absolute confidence. And the clinician, in this wise, is duty bound to keep the information as confident as possible. This duty is not just an ethical obligation, but it is also a legal requirement binding all clinicians. It can then be said that patient information is generally held under legal as well as ethical obligation of confidentiality. Information about patient should not be disclosed to any other person other than in furthering the treatment of the patient in question and such disclosure must be with the express permission of the patient in question.
Consent is an essential part of the confidentiality procedure. And except in some exceptional circumstances, the consent cannot be assumed. It is the responsibility of clinicians to look after patient’s information, ensure that patients are aware of how the information they give is used or disseminated, and above all, provide the opportunity for patient to give consent on the use of such information that have been disclosed. It is also the clinician’s duty to ensure that patients’ information are consistent and accurately recorded; the information must be kept physically secure and must be judiciously used.
The Data Protection Act 1998 provides the framework that protects the processing of personal information. The Human right Act 1998 similarly establish a right to “private and family” life. This also underpins the need for privacy and protection of the confidentiality of patients’ health records.
Department of Health (2010) Patient confidentiality and Access to...
References: Department of Health (2010) Patient confidentiality and Access to Health Records. Available at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Managingyourorganisation/Informationpolicy/Patientconfidentialityandcaldicottguardians/index.htm [Accessed 12/12/2011]
Department of Health (2003) Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice. Available at http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/documents/digitalasset/dh_4069254.pdf [Accessed 12/12/2011]
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