Healthcare professionals must follow confidentiality ethics in healthcare using four principles as explained by Oliver Oyakhire
Patients count on healthcare professionals to keep their information private and secure. Typically, patient information may not be disclosed without the approval of the patient. However, some situations will call for a break in a confidentiality agreement. Oliver Oyakhire covers three principles of medical ethics that aid in making the decision.
All patient-doctor relationships are built on trust. If a doctor or healthcare provider breaks a confidentiality agreement without the patient’s consent, it can cause long-term negative consequences to the patient. Oliver Oyakhire explains that the patient may be reluctant to trust healthcare professionals in the future, no matter how much they need care.
Autonomy should only be broken if the patient is not competent or puts themselves or others in harm’s way. Oliver Oyakhire notes that this can include illegal activity or the intention to hurt others.
A healthcare professional should make their patients’ health and well-being the number one priority. There are times when breaking confidentiality will mean the patient may get in trouble with the police or child services, for example. Oliver Oyakhire believes that doctors should first gain the trust of their patients, then advise them on who to go to for help in their situation. If the patient gets help themselves, there is no need to break the confidentiality agreement.
Oliver Oyakhire advises all healthcare professionals to think carefully before breaking any confidentiality agreements. If patients begin to think of doctors as tattletales, the reputation of physicians can change and be tarnished. Patients may no longer want to tell their doctors the truth. Withholding information can be severe and detrimental to the health of the patient.
Confidentiality scenarios can range greatly, so it’s essential to look at each situation individually. For example, it could be someone withholding information about a contagious disease from their partner. Oliver Oyakhire explains that it could also be a woman who contemplates hurting her baby or someone with a laboring job who should not be able to operate heavy machinery.
In all of these scenarios, someone else may be at risk due to the patient’s negligence. Oliver Oyakhire notes that healthcare professionals must use their ethic compass as a guide for a successful career.