Discreetness of Healthcare workers
As sworn in the Hippocratic Oath, a medical practitioner is bound to maintain patient/clients privacy and confidentiality. In light of a patients criminality in today’s medical world, there has arise a need and obligation by health workers to protect patient privacy and maintain confidentiality. There have been numerous ethical professional and legal obligations regarding the release of clients’ records, test data and other information in the legal context (Merrill et al, 2007). But time and again, medical practitioners, in their ethical duty and obligation to protect and maintain confidentiality of client records, and to protect the integrity and security of test materials, and further still to avoid misuse of assessment techniques and data, have found themselves in conflict with legal officers in dealing with patients who are criminal suspects and even have criminal records.
In many cases, a medical practitioner may be faced with a subpoena or compelled by a court to provide testimony on client records or test data. In line with this case, many medical associations the world over have came up with policies and guidelines to deal with these court demands. In order not to be seen as blocking the rule of law, many health care workers have been forced to respond to these subpoenas without necessarily disclosing confidential patient information.
According to the Encyclopedia of surgery, patient confidentiality is the right of an individual to have personal, identifiable medical information kept private such information should be available only to the physician of record and other health care and insurance personnel as deemed necessary (Cole &Oxtoby, 2002). The same Encyclopedia of surgery defines a patient right as encompassing legal and ethical issues in the provider patient relationship, including a person’s right to make informed decision about care and treatment options and the right to refuse treatment.
This therefore, makes it clear that among many other rights, a patient medical has the right to confidentiality subsequent access to these records. This protection of patient privacy and protection of personal health records, and data in an environment of electronic medical and third-party insurance payers, and in line with increasing cyber
Crime compels health care workers to guard against hacking into patient health records. Many cases have been reported on criminal’s use of patient records in raiding of their bank accounts and credit cards. In thus implies that personal and medical information given to a health care provider will and should not be disclosed to others unless the individual has given prior and specified permission for such a release. But this hasn’t prevented the release of such confidential information, but in these case where a patient information has been made public, especially in case studies and writing of medical journals, effects must be made and guidelines provided to hide the patient identity (by not disclosing his/her name, or using a pseudo-name) and in this confidentiality is breached in anyway has hurt the patient (by disclosing his/her name), the patient deserves the right to sue (Ketch 1997). Many patients have been requested, especially by psychologist, who wish to know the motive of psycho-killers (serial killers) and permission granted for the release of the same and has provided many insights into the study.
Despite all this however, patients medical information, though confidential, might still find itself divulged, especially in cases where patient’s medical bills are paid by third parties such as insurance firms. In such an eventuality, then it becomes hard to maintain privacy. If such happens, then individuals must provide written consent for any and all release of medical or health related information to guard against use of such information by criminals or people with criminal intent.
Many patients, who might be involved in criminal activities might wish to seek medical attention and their believe on medical privacy and confidentiality, might not fear arrest. These might range from patients requiring substance abuse related cases, patients with gunshot wounds or women wishing to undertake illegal abortion. Such information could form a basis for criminal prosecution at the federal level (Cole &Oxtoby, 2002). Medical and legal experts believe that if government seek information from medical sources on patients with crimes, if could erode people confidence on medical practitioners and such patients, and others, might in future fail to seek medical attention.
But this doesn’t mean such information might not be released. There has been an established party to whom medical information may be disclosed to. These are mainly other treatment providers (e.g. psychologists), health care services payers (insurances firms), medical researchers, health care agencies, families, law enforcement officials (under certain circumstances) and public health officials.
There are applicable ethical theories and principles in ensuring medical privacy and confidentiality. The ethics code state that confidentiality of patient information is implicit and does not need to articulated before the patient receives care. This is despite the patient being a criminal having a criminal record or committing a criminal offence (e.g. abortion). By preserving confidentiality, provides respect patient autonomy, a bide by their obligation to reciprocate patient’s trust and preserve public confidence in the provider patient relationship.
These ethical theories and principles of medical practitioners could be termed as normative (what ought to be done), practical) what most people do) and non-normative (what actually going on) (Merrill et al, 2007). A health care gives/provides who branches the Hippocratic Oath on privacy and confidentiality may have his/her practicing license withdrawn, and might even face court proceedings and subsequent imprisonment.
Robert Ketch (1997) turns the normative principles of medical ethics as moral justification which guide judgments on medical breach cases. There emerges conflict among these moral principles i.e. is it morally right or wrong. This normative principles looks at agents, acts, ends and consequences; It does this by formulating three theories among them teleological theories (ends of action), consequencialist theories (emphasizes consequences or effects of action) and deontological theories (rightness or wrongness of action)