Patient confidentiality

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Patient confidentiality
In a television episode of ER which aired on NBC in 2000, Carol Hathaway became aware of risky sexual behaviors that had led to a 14 year old girl having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and cervical cancer. Prior to finding this information out, Carol Hathaway had promised the patient that she would not tell anyone about whatever the patient discussed with her. But upon realizing the high risk of the girl’s behavior, Carol Hathaway came to find herself in a dilemma of whether or not to reveal how the girl had contracted the STD which led to her cancer because of the public health risks. Although maintaining confidentiality is a cornerstone of the nurse-patient relationship, there are instances wherein protection of the greater good must prevail. When Is It Ok to Break Confidentiality? Legal exceptions to the standard of practice that confidences must be kept, except with the patient’s consent or at the patient’s request to release it. An emergency in which keeping the confidence will harm the patient, or third parties are at serious risk for harm (e.g., STD, child or adult abuse), etc. A good practice is to advise patients about the limits of confidentiality rather than after disclosed sensitive information. This paper will look at the six-step process of ethical decision making to analysis the dilemma Hathaway encountered. According to Purtilo, the steps allow us to take the situation apart and look at it in a more organized, coolheaded way (Purtilo, 2011). Step 1 is to gather relevant information as much as possible. Then you are ready to proceed to the next step which is to identify the type of ethical problem you are facing. Step 3 is to use ethics theories or approaches to analyze the problem, the theories including utilitarianism and Deontology. Utilitarianism theory is focuses on the overall consequences, and Deontology is focuses on duty. The Greek word “deon” means duty or obligation. This terminology points to the central...
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