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Protecting the confidentiality of a patient with an infectious disease can be complex. On one hand health care professionals are expected to follow the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) Code of Conduct 2010 guidelines which stress the importance of protecting patient confidentiality: “you must respect people’s right to confidentiality” (2010, p.3) and making every effort to promote patients as individuals who should be treated with dignity and respect (2010, p.3). Health care professionals may find themselves in turmoil over whether their necessity to protect others from cross-infection overrides the duty of care to their patient by keeping their information confidential; particularly in this case (see Appendix A) where the patient, Sam, has a head injury, knowingly has the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and has told his nurse not to disclose this information with others over his fear of future career prospects.
This essay will discuss in general the moral and professional issues raised by this scenario. There are no definitive answers to this scenario as everyone’s opinion of what is right and what is wrong differs. This essay explores the legal legislation that may guard his nurse if they feel that his confidentiality needed to be breached and also what legislation is in place to protect the general public from Sam. It will also try to explain what actions are in place to protect Sam; professional guidelines and laws available that protect confidentiality rights and procedures available to staff to prevent cross-infection. The four ethical principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice are also used in relation to Sam; discussing what each principal means and how it relates to this scenario.
Medical information about a person is particularly sensitive and Sam must feel certain that it will be protected, and not used or shared in inappropriate ways. Concerns about confidentiality can be even more serious for Sam who has a stigmatised

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