Confidentiality is the protection of personal information. Confidentiality means keeping a client’s information between you and the patient, and not telling others including friends and family. (Learning, n.d.). For example, the information about a child suffering from Cystic Fibrosis should not be disclosed to anyone other than the child and his/her parents.
Confidentiality involves restricting patient’s information and not disclosing personal data of patients indiscriminately. For example, telling friends and talking about patients in a place where information can be overheard or leaving patients information lying around is a breach of confidentiality. Information that could be considered ‘confidential’ include name, date of birth, height, weight, medical history and so on.
Data Protection are measures taken to ensure confidentiality of patients. Methods of data protection include using encrypted connections, using passwords, locking and securing files manually and so on. There are some principles to data protection; personal data must be processed fairly and lawfully; must be processed for specific purposes; must be adequate, relevant and not excessive; must not be kept for longer than necessary; must be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects; must be processed by appropriate security and must not be transferred without adequate protection (NHS).
Methods of data protection include using data encryption-converting data into a form that ensures that unwanted and unauthorised people are not allowed to see or use it, updating computer software regularly, performing regular maintenance checks for viruses and malwares to prevent information from being stolen, carrying out data deduplication regularly which is the process of removing unnecessary data copied into different parts of the computer thereby making information less accessible to outsiders and most importantly keeping important or sensitive information away from patients.
In regards to data protection and patients, there are various factors to be considered ranging from age to legal obligation. For example, in children or young people, the parent is sought to make decisions for them because of their incapacity to make legal and logical appropriately.
This means that patient should be informed honestly about why their information is being taken and why it is necessary, information should only be shared with people other than the patient unless absolutely appropriate and necessary, information collected from patient should be collected concisely and kept appropriately only when required, information should be inputted correctly and cross checked to prevent errors and misconceptions: duplicate copies should not be kept unless absolutely necessary, information should be processed with the permission of the patient and should be protected with maximum security.
The Caldicott Principles ensure maximum data protection. There are six criterions to the Caldicott principle that applies to the handling of patient-identifiable information (National Archives , n.d.). The Caldicott principle proposes that: information should justify the purpose of every proposed use or transmission; should not be used unless it is absolutely necessary; information should be as minimal as necessary; access to the information should be on a strict need-to-know basis; everyone with access to it should be aware of their responsibilities and understand and comply with the law.
The Freedom of Information gives the user the right to access recorded information held by organisations. Anyone can request information – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality or where you live (GOV.UK). The Act that enforces this is called the Freedom of Information Act and it is aimed at “[making] provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them and to amend the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Public Records Act 1958; and for connected purposes” (Wikipedia, n.d.).
However, there are some exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act which means information cannot be provided to the public in cases where it is clearly stated in The Freedom of Information Act, limited in number and if it is used where some harm might be caused if the information is released to the public (Archives, n.d.). This could affect the treatment of the patient is being affected by the information being withheld by this act. Although it is very useful, the exemptions provide a downside which means that sometimes information which could be useful to the patient may be held back.
Working Code of Ethics are a set of rules and regulations that must be following in a working environment with regards to a patient. In hospitals the working ethics include: treating patients as individuals, respecting people’s confidentiality, collaborating with patients in care, ensuring that consent is gained, maintaining clear professional boundaries, sharing information with colleagues to ensure the patient is treated adequately, working with the patient effectively as part of a team and keeping clear and accurate records about the patient (Goldsmith, 2011).
The working code of ethics ensures that the patients are provided with utmost care and attention. Together with data protection they improve confidentiality and ensures that the patients are listened to, with their concerns and preferences respected. For example, in older people, maintaining their dignity and respecting their rights and choices is very essential to their well being so there is a great deal of pressure on people who care for them to make improvements in their treatment and care.
In conclusion, the confidentiality of the patient is ensured through data protection which may involve the use of passwords or encryption and following the Caldicott Principles. Also, the Freedom of Information Act makes information which may be relevant to the patient available thereby increasing efficiency of treatment provided while The Working Code of Ethics provides maximum care and support to the patient by taking into consideration their choices and preferences so that they can get back to perfect health.