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Patient confidentiality is an enshrined and fundamental part of medical health care that should be thoroughly considered by all staff associated with the medical industry.
Every person that is treated or cared for in a medical setting has a legal right to control his or her personal health information. Any information that is given to a healthcare professional must only be used for the benefit of care to the discloser and cannot be divulged without permission.
The only times confidential information should be given out is to aid other individuals who have a direct responsibility for your health e.g. a GP and Social Services, when the health and safety of others is at immediate risk or where the law requires to do so e.g. global pandemics.
Any breach of the confidentiality duty by an employee will lead to disciplinary hearings and could lead to a dismissal if the misconduct is serious enough.
Given its significance in the industry, maintaining and protecting confidentiality in fast-paced, highly charged clinical environments can be a daunting task.
No matter what the situation, location or the nature of the work, there are six key measures that every staff member must do to protect a patient’s confidentiality.
Maintaining patient confidentiality can be tricky just through word of mouth and hard paperwork but the increasing use of technology both inside and outside places of care are broadening the risks of confidentiality being broken.
This week a London NHS Trust accidentally exposed the identities of 781 patients who had attended HIV clinics after sending out a group newsletter revealing the email addresses of the patients.
This administrative error was an example of one of the many major risks that the computerisation of the NHS has created when trying to protect patient confidentiality.
Social media’s now complete integration into the population’s daily life has also raised the chances of medical professionals disclosing confidential information in the public domain without realising it. If any post risks identifying a patient in care of the professional, that individual would be held responsible and will face disciplinary action.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, Search Medical has also provided seven useful tips to help you protect patients’ confidentiality in a technological aspect.
By John Murphy