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Breaching confidentiality

(27 Posts)
Tigswig Mon 12-Mar-18 22:19:57

Can you breach confidentiality if you don't identify a person in any way? I'm a nurse and I found out that a patient's daughter went to the same school as me but not at the same time and mentioned it when I was on the phone to my dh. I said "it's a small world, I met someone on the ward who went to my school but a long time after I left" and then reminded him to buy cat food.
I've now been accused of breaching confidentiality and I am waiting to hear if I will be disciplined. I didn't identify the patient or her daughter in any way so did I breach confidentiality?

Nickynackynoodle Mon 12-Mar-18 22:24:18

I don’t think so. You’ve not really narrowed it down to information that could identify someone. Sex, age etc.

Otterseatpuffinsdontthey Mon 12-Mar-18 22:29:05

You need to clarify this, with whichever union you subscribe to + and/or N.M.C.
May I ask where the phone conversation occurred + are you aware who reported you?

caoraich Mon 12-Mar-18 22:32:39

I really doubt you have breached confidentiality.

If that's exactly what you said, you didn't even say that it was a patient you were talking about. It's the sort of thing I might mention about a bank nurse or a locum: "I met someone on my ward".

Did someone overhear you and complain?

Tigswig Mon 12-Mar-18 23:11:10

I am a union member and will be accompanied by a rep when I go to the investigation meeting. I don't know who reported me, I just thought that I could nip it in the bud if I haven't actually contravened the policy.

Tigswig Mon 12-Mar-18 23:16:43

I'm kicking myself because I used the phone in the office, it was a thirty second conversation and I definitely didn't identify the patient or her daughter.

creampie Mon 12-Mar-18 23:43:38

No that's not identifiable.

However, if you'd said you went to school with someone who was a patient and they had condition x, that would be breaching confidentiality.

In the first case, if someone was to find out the persons identity they would only learn that they went to school with you, which wouldn't really be confidential info. In the second case they would learn something new, what the persons diagnosis was, which would be confidential.

However, it's not really best practice to do either if you want to avoid any doubt.

Have a look st the NHS guidelines on confidentiality and the Caldecott guidelines if you are to have a meeting with management, so you are ready to defend yourself

creampie Mon 12-Mar-18 23:45:39

If those were the exact words you used, you also haven't even identified the person was a patient. It could have been staff, or a visitor etc.

creampie Mon 12-Mar-18 23:48:10

The general rule of thumb is something is identifiable information if the patient would be sure to recognise themselves from the information.

The fact that you went to school with someone doesn't really narrow it down enough to be identifiable

(Sorry for the multiple posts!)

daisychain01 Tue 13-Mar-18 06:07:12

OP it is really stretching the point to say you breached confidentiality and sounds like someone is mischief making.

Referring to a person as "someone" is so vague that it's ridiculous to accuse you of saying anything out of turn. You didn't even talk about them as a "patient".

As you've recognised, it was not a good move to make a personal call in work time, so it's likely that your 'reporter' took exception to you making a casual call and are just reinforcing it by saying you were giving away confidential information. In your defence you could show regret about making the brief 40 second personal call in work time and commit to not doing it anymore.

SammyWhammy85 Tue 13-Mar-18 19:34:33

Your husband knows:
a. What ward of what hospital you work on
b. The fact a daughter of a patient used to go to your school

These two pieces of information can be combined to discover the identity of the patient, and what's wrong with them, for example if your husband should mention it to someone who might know the person in hospital.
Plus, you are basically gossiping about patients.

ReinettePompadour Tue 13-Mar-18 19:38:36

@SammyWhammy85 you have misread op post. Her husband only knows what ward she works on. That is all from your list confused

SammyWhammy85 Tue 13-Mar-18 19:41:25

Her husband also knows that a patient is on the ward whose daughter used to go to the OP's school. It says that in her post

SammyWhammy85 Tue 13-Mar-18 19:45:48

You can identify a person by combining different pieces of information. You don't have to mention their name. If the OP is a nurse, and has received adequate Data Protection training, she will understand this

SammyWhammy85 Tue 13-Mar-18 19:47:38

However, if you'd said you went to school with someone who was a patient
The fact someone is in hospital is confidential information

F4ttyBumBum Tue 13-Mar-18 19:47:44

I'm sorry you are going through this, it really is a storm in a teacup and could have easily been brought up with you in line management and you would not have done it again. Now they are investigating it, go full throttle in and fight how ridiculous it is that you shared patient identifiable information. This will be about a bigger issue (that you may or may not be aware of, it always is in the NHS).

creampie Wed 14-Mar-18 10:12:12

Actually sammywhammy, it's not confidential to know someone is in hospital. If you ask at the main reception with a patients name, they will tell you which ward they are on

itstimeforanamechange Wed 14-Mar-18 10:37:54

Yes, it's often easier to deal with data protection in a medical context than any other. Phone BT to deal with a phone bill? Forget it if you're not the customer. Phone a GP or dentist to make an appointment for someone else? No problem at all.

SammyWhammy85 Wed 14-Mar-18 13:45:35

it's not confidential to know someone is in hospital. If you ask at the main reception with a patients name, they will tell you which ward they are on
The person asking will already know the person is there. The hospital would have asked the patient upon admission if there was anyone they didn't want to know they were there

SammyWhammy85 Wed 14-Mar-18 13:46:48

Phone BT to deal with a phone bill? Forget it if you're not the customer. Phone a GP or dentist to make an appointment for someone else? No problem at all.
It is well known that the NHS and it's staff are one of the worst organisations for data protection. As the OP has shown.

Lobsterface Wed 14-Mar-18 21:15:17

Sammy the husband doesn’t know it’s the daughter of a patient who attended the school. Very little info given and not identifiable.

Lobsterface Wed 14-Mar-18 21:16:44

Creampie, that’s not true. OP most certainly could not say “name” is a patient on the ward.

beelzibub Wed 14-Mar-18 21:20:07

How on earth would anyone work out an identity from that information?

Lobsterface Wed 14-Mar-18 21:21:58

Unless it’s a very very small school and a very rare illness?

SammyWhammy85 Wed 14-Mar-18 22:40:58

How on earth would anyone work out an identity from that information?
If they know a third piece of information, and add it to the other two, it is very possible

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