Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Confidentiality In Health Professions

Recently, as in last week, my now 22 almost 23 year old son went out to a local lake to do what 22 year old something do (jump off old tire swings, jump off cliffs into ocean waters, etc).

He'd been gone all day so I presumed he was having a blast and thankfully, he did.

A few days later we were sitting at dinner and he had a puzzled, troubled look on his face when I asked him about the friends (one of which is his boss).

He said that the fiancee of the boss's brother mentioned to the entire group after he'd left that she'd diagnosed him with scoliosis and he was not sure he should be mad.

I sat on my hands, chewed the inside of my cheek and just listened.

My son felt like he'd been ridiculed again, singled out, victimized.  She'd waited apparently until he got into his car to leave before telling the group.

"Am I right to be mad?" he asked.

"How'd you find out?" I questioned.

"My boss pulled me aside at work and mentioned it to me, asked if it bothered me."

Well, hell might have no fury like a woman scorned but victimize MY son?

"Who is she and what school does she go to?" I demanded.  "You should be pissed."

See, where I sit she broke MANY simple rules of health care professionals (if not more):

1)  A student of any kind (LPN, RN, NP, PA, DO, MD) should NOT diagnose anyone.  You're a student, not a licensed health practitioner.  Don't let your ego get in the way of your path.

2)  In no place is it appropriate to disclose another person's PERSONAL health to another person without their written consent, or the consent of their parent if they are minor.  It's that little law that went into affect, ooooh, about 20 years ago called HIPAA (not like the rhino friend, Hippo).

3)  It is never appropriate, ever, to disclose that kind of health information to an employer unless expressly requested or demanded for some reason (maybe health screening) but if that were the case, the employee would have signed a consent (there's that consent thingy again).

He asked what he should do and how he should handle it.  We talked it through, he was going to blame a "really good doctor friend of his" that had come "unglued when hearing what she'd done" and tell the boss he was concerned that the fiancee didn't know what she'd done was so wrong and that he didn't want her to screw up her career at some point by gossiping about someone's health.

I was angry.  I AM angry and sat on it for a few days.  Today, I called the school.

The director wanted to know which student, I declined saying I did not want to out her or victimize my son further which would happen given the relationship between his boss, and the nursing STUDENT.

What I preferred (demanded) is that the school use this as a teaching exercise and reinforce privacy of patients (and in this case, non patients).

There IS a higher platform for health professionals to maintain.

We talked further, he really wanted the student's name, I said no.  It would create issues for him at work, make things awkward and I would not do that to my son.

To me, the situation that happened with my son is no different than if 30 students are on spring break, two get too drunk and wipe out on the sloppy slide at Cancun's Tropical Hat Oasis and crack a head open whereupon the CT scan it is found that one of them has a hemorrhage.  To me, the health care students at that point have an obligation to keep their mouths shut.  Even if licensed, they have an obligation to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Students and licensed practitioners have an obligation in all facets of life to protect people's privacy.

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