The Importance of Patient Confidentiality

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Anybody working within the healthcare sector has to follow strict guidelines when it comes to patient confidentiality. It plays an extremely important role in medicine and without it patients would be a lot more hesitant to seek the help that they need. If you handle confidential information regarding patients of any type of healthcare facility, you need to make sure you follow proper regulations. .

What does patient confidentiality really mean?

Patient confidentiality can be a tricky topic to get to grips with. At its core, it states that individuals have the right to keep their medical records private and information cannot be shared with loved ones, employers or any other third party. There are exceptions to this for example, by law the medical professional has to report to appropriate authorities if their patient is at risk of harming themselves or other people.

All patient records and personal details need to be securely stored away. Physical records need to be kept in a secure filing system that remains locked. It should only be accessible to those who need to access the files. Electronic records also need to be stored on a secure system. has a fantastic guide on patient confidentiality which can relate to all medical sectors.

Any break in patient confidentiality laws are classed as a serious offense and it will have a significant negative impact on your practice.

The damage that can be caused

If patient’s records were to become public, it could have a number of negative effects on their life. It can cause problems both at work and at home. As stated on the website, there has been an increase in the amount of physicians being sued by their patients due to a breach in patient confidentiality. Even if it is found you weren’t to blame, the legal fees are high and it can really damage your reputation. The damage caused can be really serious which is why it is so important to ensure you follow appropriate guidelines.

How to keep patient information secure

There are many ways you can ensure your patients information stays confidential. Electronic records are a lot more secure than physical records. Provided they are kept on a password protected system, you won’t have to worry about prying eyes. It goes without saying that you should never set a password that is easy to guess. You should also only provide the password to other personnel who need it.

Discussing patient case studies is also something you need to be careful about. Providing you don’t mention any names or personal information, you can use your patient’s basic problem as a case study to get advice from other professionals. However you really need to be careful when doing this. The patient you are referring to should not be identifiable from the information you provide.

Overall patient confidentiality is extremely important and something all medical health professionals need to be well aware of.

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