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Discuss The Importance Of Confidentiality Essay

1728 words - 7 pages

Discuss the importance of confidentiality and this statement from the NursingMidwifery Council,"as a Registered Nurse, Midwife or Health Visitor, you are personallyaccountable for your practice. In caring for patients and clients, you mustprotect confidential information", ( NMC, 2002 ).The author of this essay is a student nurse who has recently completed their first clinical placement. The placement was a day hospital for people over the age of sixty five, who were experiencing mental health problems. The essay begins by discussing why confidentiality is important. It then goes on to discuss the reasons why a registered nurse is personally accountable and also to whom they are accountable ...view middle of the document...

" Confidentiality is extremely important because nurses have a legal, ethical and professional responsibility to maintain it.The right to confidentiality is protected in law by : the common law duty of confidentiality which relates to the professional relationship that exists between the nurse and the patient or client; Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is now incorporated in UK law by the Human Right Act 1998, and the Data Protection Act 1998 ( DPA, 1998 ). The author of this essay believes that confidentiality is a legal minefield and therefore it is important that all registered nurses and student nurses understand the legal implications for their work, as agreed by ( Diamond, 2002 ). The author believes that this will enable them to protect themselves and also enable them to protect their patients or clients. Information that the nurse acquires or has access to should not be disclosed to third parties who are outside the healthcare team without first gaining informed consent from the patient or client first, in accordance with clause 3 of the Professional Code of Conduct (NMC, 2002 ). Consent can only be given or refused by a patient or client who is legally competent, and this needs to be presumed unless otherwise assessed by a suitably qualified practitioner. If a patient or client is legally incompetent to make an informed decision then a decision can be made by the clinical staff, in the patients best interests. If a patient or client is mentally ill and incapable of making an informed decision then the psychiatrist and people who are close to them should make the decision. In the case of a child who is 16 or above consent should also be gained ,the same as for a legally competent adult, if they are under 16 then the person who has paternal responsibility should be asked, ( Kenworthy et al 2002 ). However if the child is under 16 but is mature enough they to should be asked themselves for consent ( Gillick v. West Norfolk Wisbach, cited by Diamond (2002 ). Implied consent is sometimes taken because it would be impractical to obtain specific consent for every occasion in which another professional becomes involved ( Mallet et al, 2000 ). However, the patient or client should be informed that confidential information will be shared in this way ( Kenworthy et al, 2002 ). It can be given orally, in witting or by co-operation of the patient or client, all of which are valid in law. However, Diamond,( 2002 ) suggests that it is best if it is written because that way there is a record. If information was disclosed without first gaining consent from the patient or client, except in the circumstances previously mentioned, then it is an inappropriate breach of confidentiality that could result in the person responsible answering a negligence charge in court. The author observed, whilst on placement, that members of staff always asked for consent before they disclosed any confidential information, such as to family members....

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