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Breach of Confidentiality - Essay Example

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Patient confidentiality denotes that the patient’s records will not be revealed to anyone unless permitted by the patient. This, however, is becoming incredibly…
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Breach of Confidentiality
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Breach of Confidentiality Breach of Confidentiality Confidentiality refers to a patient’s right to have information about his or her health status concealed. Patient confidentiality denotes that the patient’s records will not be revealed to anyone unless permitted by the patient. This, however, is becoming incredibly difficult to guarantee due to storing of the message electronically and insurance issues. This paper will examine a real case of breach of confidentiality, focusing on the facts involved, and how it could have been prevented.
Physicians are bound by the obligation to keep the health records of patients private. This means that a physician cannot reveal any information of the patient during the course of treatment unless under the patients approval. The essence of physician’s responsibility is to preserve patients’ confidentiality, and help them to be open and able to give all the information regarding their health status. This is done with the assurance that the physician will safeguard such personal information. The honest revelation by the patient provides for a proper and effective treatment of the condition. There are, however, exemptions, for instance, if a patient may hurt others or himself or herself.
A breach of confidentiality refers to the revelation of the patients’ medical information to another person without the patients’ permission by a physician or medical health expert. The revelation can be electronically, through word of mouth, or through writing. Thus, the physician’s responsibility of safeguarding the patients’ medical records sometimes has to relent to the interests of the whole.
 In Estate of Behringer v Princeton Medical Centre (1990), the late Behringer, working as a surgeon at the medical centre, suffered from AIDS. Behringer received treatment from the same hospital. His chart containing information about his diagnosis was not safeguarded at the nurses’ location on the floor where it was kept.
The exposure of the information on his diagnosis revealed his medical condition, making the hospital necessitate his patients to sign a form recognizing the dangers to their health. Eventually, this resulted to the deferral of the doctor’s surgical rights (McHale, 1993). The inability of the hospital to protect his personal medical information led to Behringer’s estate suing the hospital for breach of confidentiality.
The breach of confidentiality occurred in the sense that the hospital was supposed to safeguard the chart containing the surgeon’s diagnosis information. However, they instead left the chart in the open where many people, including other patients could see it. The revelation of Behringer’s medical information adversely affected him as he had to give up his surgical rights. In addition, his patients had to contend with the dangers of being treated by an AIDS patient.
To prevent the breach of confidentiality, the hospital could have stored the chart containing the diagnosis information in a well secured place where no one could access it, rather than placing it on the floor of the nurses’ post where most people could access it (McHale, 1993). The hospital could also have sought authorization from the surgeon before placing the chart in the location. This would mean that it was out of his consent that the chart was exhibited at the hospital.
Alternatively, the hospital could have placed the chart there but without revealing the identity of the subject. Anonymity would help to conceal the doctor’s personal information on the diagnosis and treatment of his condition. In conclusion, it is vital to note that confidentiality is of much value in the medical field. It protects the patients from harm, discrimination, and stigma while also ensuring professionalism in the field.
McHale, J. V. (1993). Medical confidentiality and legal privilege: Social ethics and policy series. New Jersey: Routledge. Read More
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