Custom «Patient Confidentiality» Essay Paper Sample

Patient Confidentiality

My professional position regarding patient confidentiality is that, an individual has a right to privacy about their personal information.  Any medical information and data collected from a patient must not be disclosed to other people without the consent of the patient. Confidentiality is a very important aspect of the doctor-patient relationship. It is very crucial that a patient develops trust in the doctor. All the same, patient confidentiality can be compromised in some occasions. When there is a dilemma and a need arises to enhance proper care and support to the patient, confidentiality may be compromised. Hathaway is faced with such a circumstance, when her patient has a harsh medical problem (Nathanson, 2000). The move she takes in contemplating compromise is occasioned by the need to promote welfare of the patient, although it goes against the initial consent between the doctor and the patient.

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Well, there are ethical implications of a breach of confidentiality in the treatment process. Breaching the confidentiality of the patient destroys the trust that was initially developed, which is a very crucial aspect in doctor-patient relationships (Nathanson, 2000). Moreover, when this trust is breached, the patient could easily have a difficult moment in trusting doctors and disclosing relevant information during treatment in future. Again, the compromise on confidentiality betrays the trust of the patient, which directly opposes the patient’s right for autonomy. It is clear that even though patient confidentiality will face a threat of compromise, the dilemma should be handled in a very careful manner (Sieber, 2000). This is to say that there are quite a number of instances, where the medical data of a patient should be disclosed.

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Ethical Decision Framework

Hathaway could have used a very reasonable alternative to address the dilemma she faced using a framework of ethical decision making. In dealing with the cases she came across with, the first step would require a careful data collection procedure and identifying the problem causing the dilemma. The doctor should be alert and sensitive to morally charged circumstances. The doctor should identify what they know from that and what they do not. . Being open to alternative interpretations is very important. In establishing what decisions need to be made, the doctor should state the case in brief with quite a number of relevant circumstances and facts within the time of making decision. After that, the context within which the decision is made must also be considered based on the time within which it is being made. The doctor should weigh between other decision-making contexts and whether the right decision-makers are involved (National Bioethics Advisory Commission, 2001).  

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The identification of feasible alternatives should be made in the process. The use of ethical resources in the identification of morally important factors in each option is very important in making the right choice in these medical dilemmas. The medical practitioner should propose and test any possible alternative resolutions before breaching the patient confidentiality in such a dilemma. The choice should be based on a resolution that produces the best consequences. Ethical factors should be taken into account, before a change can be made on altering the stand on patient confidentiality. Based on this, the medical practitioners can then go ahead and make a choice. It may be important to note that the medical practitioner may not really need to compromise patient confidentiality as the situation may appeal initially and this explains the significance of applying this framework.

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Ethical decision-making is an approach that is best done in a compassionate and caring environment (Nathanson, 2000). It will normally take time and could require several meetings with patient and team members before coming up with the final resolution. An ethics committee might approach the dilemma by weighing a number of morally vital factors in the options that are available for the patient. A comprehensive collaborative approach to ethical decision making will depend on the nature of the situation. For instance, the case involving sexually transmitted disease will most likely warrant the breaching of patient confidentiality. There are fundamental medical practices that must be maintained and come first before a single individual.

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An ethics committee will go for a “duty to warn” over the “patient confidentiality”. Ideally, questions might emerge as to whether a person should be expected to inform a mate in the event that they have been diagnosed with a certain sexually transmitted disease, based on the fact that the partner has an increased probable chance of getting the disease too. These dilemmas present obvious facts. The partner should know about this condition. A doctor should actually be in a position to warn the partner of the detrimental risks to them. An important element of breaking the cycle of some sexually transmitted diseases is by way of notifying the partners that have a chance of being infected.  Some sexually transmitted diseases can go through a long period of time without being noticed and, therefore, people should be tested occasionally and create awareness to their partners concerning the exposure.  The role of the doctor would be to persuade the patient to reveal the condition to the partner (National Bioethics Advisory Commission, 2001). Failure to do so, nurses and doctors like Hathaway will have a very good reason to think outright that the partner is in a risky situation.

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In conclusion, while confidentially must be maintained in many conditions of providing health care, there are some occasions, when it ought to be broken. There are laws that require doctors and nurses to report specific contagious diseases to public health advisories for reason of protecting the health of other people. Fatal illnesses like HIV would require the breaching and compromise of patient confidentiality. The greater good in this case would not be maintaining the patient confidentiality, but protecting an innocent individual who is not aware of the situation. Therefore, confidentiality should be taken with a lot of seriousness, because there are moments, when a compromise of the patient confidentiality becomes important in an effort of preserving the life of the most important individual in the scenario. 

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