Sunday, 8 January 2017

Koi Sun to Nahi Raha?’ A Campaign on medical confidentiality

Koi Sun to Nahi Raha?’ A Campaign on medical confidentiality Privacy and confidentiality are important tenets of ethical medical practice. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights of UNESCO states as follows: “The privacy of the persons concerned and the confidentiality of their personal information should be respected. To the greatest extent possible, such information should not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected or consented to, consistent with international law, in particular international human rights law.” Patients have a legal right to data privacy, and there are laws in place to guide healthcare professionals about how to store, collect and distribute information. The patient is the supreme consent giver, and without such consent, no action on their health record can be taken. The hospital owns the records, but the information therein is owned by the patient. Data protection and confidentiality are important cornerstones of medical ethics and essential to good practice. Moreover, it is also crucial with respect to patient safety. Patients often share private and intimate details about themselves with their doctors who in turn have an obligation to keep this information safe and private. Patient-doctor confidentiality helps build trust and fosters a trusting environment, which is crucial to encourage the patient to seek care and to be as honest as possible during the course of a treatment. IMA wants to streamline the rules relating to medical privacy and confidentiality. ‘Koi Sun to Nahi Raha?’ is a campaign focused on building and strengthening this trusting relationship. Apart from existing patient data protection laws and practices, we intend to bring out the discussion in everyday practice. Through this campaign, we wish to draw the attention of the general public to the rights that they are entitled to. Small but important routine practices in healthcare settings often breach this privacy unknowingly. For instance, IMA is against the operation theatre list being displayed in corridors; this discloses personal and sensitive information about the patients. A coding based system can be devised instead so that the full identity of the patient is not disclosed. Calling out the name of the patient in the corridors outside ICU also falls under this breach. These are small but often overlooked details in daily medical practice, which directly go against the medical ethics of doctor-patient confidentiality. IMA intends to highlight these issues and raise awareness about them among the patient and doctor community.

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