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Confidentiality in Health Care

             Confidential or Confidentiality is to keep something a secret or entrusted with secrets.
             Maintaining confidentiality is an important aspect of professional behavior. It is essential that a nurse safeguard the client's right to privacy by carefully protecting information of a sensitive, private nature. Sharing personal information or gossiping about others violates nursing ethical codes and practice standards. It sends the message that the nurse cannot be trusted and damages interpersonal relationships. Team members directly involved in the client's care should be given only relevant information about the client's status. Respect for clients is demonstrated when the nurse treats others with dignity and maintains their physical and emotional privacy. A client's medical record is confidential. There are several state and federal statutes that protect the confidentiality of medical information. Unless the client consents, nurses should not disclose confidential client information.
             Health care providers go to great lengths to ensure that client privacy is respected. Medical records may not be copied or forwarded without a client's consent. Health care information, including laboratory results, diagnosis, and prognosis, is not shared with others without specific client consent. This practice even includes preventing other family members or friends of the client from acquiring health care information. Conflicting obligations may arise when a client wants to keep information from insurance companies to preserve coverage or from employers to preserve a job. The commitment to confidentiality is particularly challenged as medical records become computerized. Preservation of confidentiality is often in competition with the need to facilitate access to information. In the case of computer access, health care institutions work to protect confidentiality by using special access codes that limit what certain employees can find on a computer system.

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