Provider-Patient Relationship: Privacy and Confidentiality - Essay Example

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The trust and the confidentiality between the patient and the nurse not only help in proper diagnosis but also enhances the…
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Provider-Patient Relationship: Privacy and Confidentiality
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Patient Confidentiality: A Matter Of Judgment Introduction In the world of health care, a relationship between a patient and a heath care provider is considered very important. The trust and the confidentiality between the patient and the nurse not only help in proper diagnosis but also enhances the recovery of the patient. However, in cases where the patient is involved in the criminal activity, keeping the information of the patient confidential proves dangerous to the lives of other people and in these cases, the nurses have to face difficult task of deciding between a duty of nurse and a duty of a human being.
Definition of privacy and confidentiality
“Privacy is the ability to control the disclosure and use of the information about the patient “(Marin & Bakken, 2001, p.74). When the patient give all the intimate and personal information about his health and life to the nurse, he expects the information to remain private and not to be disclosed to anyone. The expectation of the patient that no information of his will be revealed to anyone under any circumstances is called confidentiality (Marin & Bakken, 2001, p.74). Nurses are the epitome of trust, understanding, care and love and hence, they should practice privacy, security and confidentiality of the patient with great care.
Challenges to privacy and confidentiality
It is the ethical and the legal duty of the health care providers to keep the information related to the patient confidential (Scott, 2000, p.104). The state and the federal law are well aware of these duties of the health care providers and they cannot force them to reveal any information about the patient(Scott, 2000, p.104). The patient, during the sessions with his nurse becomes emotionally involved and develops a bond with the nurse. This emotional bond creates a feeling of trust and hence, the patient ‘opens up’ and shares all his personal information with the nurse (Scott, 2000, p.104). The duty of the health care providers to keep the patient’s information confidential is considered a privilege (Scott, 2000, p.104).
However, there are many emergency situations that put the health care providers in dilemma. Particularly those situations are difficult where the patients are involved in a criminal activity and nurses have to decide whether to reveal the information to the police or not. In these cases, it becomes important for the nurse to decide if the breach of confidentiality is going to be beneficial to the public. For example, what if a patient is involved in child, spouse or elder abuse? (Scott, 2000, p.104). There are chances of a patients to be a potential danger to the society if their criminal activity is not reported to the authorities.
When the issue of confidentiality arises in case of patient involved in criminal activity, the first thing that the nurse has to do is to judge if the breach of confidentiality can be justified (Kenworthy, Snowley & Gilling, 1999, p.125). If yes, the she can go ahead and reveal the information to the police. However, the nurse has to be very careful while treating the cases where the patient is involved in criminal activity. The law does not permit the health care providers to release any information to the police without patient’s consent (Follin, 2004, p.222). Even the police do not have a right to ask for the information from the health care providers without the consent of the court. So, when the nurse is asked to provide the information regarding the patient, the nurse has to check if it is legal and also record every detail of the information shared (Follin, 2004, p.222). The nurses have to practice caution when providing the evidence to the police and most of all, they have to judge what is important in a particular case, confidentiality and security of the patient or the interest of the society (Follin, 2004, p.222). If they think that the patient can be a potential harm to the safety of other people, then they can report the activities of the patient so that the police can carry out the legal procedure and ensure the safety of the society.
However, if the patient is not a threat to the society, then even if he is involved in the criminal activity, the nurse has a right to keep the information confidential. After all, it is a duty of a nurse to live up to the trust and the confidence that the patient has shown in her.
Follin, S. (Ed). (2004). Nurse’s Legal Handbook. PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Kenworthy, N., Snowley, G. & Gilling, C. (Eds.). (1999). Common Foundation Studies
in Nursing. Churchill Livingstone: London.
Marin, H. & Bakken, M. (2001). Building Standard-Based Nursing Information Systems. Pan American Health Organization : Washington.
Scott, R. (2000). Legal Aspects of Documenting Patient Care. Aspen Publishers: Maryland. Read More
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