Education Career Articles

Connect Facebook Connect Twitter Connect Google+ Connect Pinterest Connect Stumbleupon

Nursing Ethics: What is Confidentiality?

Career News July 29, 2013

Students learn that nurses must follow strict guidelines for moral and ethical treatment of patients. There is a great deal of concern about confidentiality today as well. Understanding what is confidentiality and what is not will help students comply with ethical and legal standards once they are on the job.

Confidentiality Defined

The simplest definition of confidentiality is maintaining privacy. Nurses are bound by their professional code of ethics and federal regulation to refrain from discussing or sharing personal information related to their patients without permission.

According to Nursing World, “Confidentiality applies to protected patient information, including basic identifiers of the patient’s past, present, or future physical or mental health conditions, including the provision of health services and payment for those services.”

Maintaining Quality Continuity of Care

Some information sharing is necessary for patients to receive treatment. In order to make this allowed sharing more efficient and protect both patients and medical providers, patients must sign a copy of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) before they receive treatment.

The HIPPA explains which information will be shared regarding patient records and with whom. The list below shows examples of entities and individuals that routinely share information to provide treatment, testing and financial services.

•Physicians
•Nurses
•Laboratories
•Administrators
•Insurance Companies
•Occupational and Vocational Therapists

What is Confidentiality Breaching?

Breaching confidentiality occurs when nurses share information about patients with people that do not have a “need to know” status covered under the patient’s written authorization. Unless otherwise instructed to do so, nurses cannot discuss patient care or diagnosis with family, friends, co-workers, other nurses, insurance providers or financial aid organizations. Even casual conversation that might reveal private information is precluded.

In addition, sharing is not just talking to unauthorized people, but includes every form of media and conversation.

This includes paper, vocal and digital channels:

•Verbal conversation
•Written conversation
•Fax
•Email
•Text
•Voice mail messages
•ASL

Confidentiality Conflicts

Trained nurses are often compassionate and caring, good listeners and great communicators. The traits often drive men and women to pursue an education and career in nursing. These same characteristics can be disadvantages because the nurturing aspects naturally compel some nurses to discuss patient recovery and treatment with concerned family and friends. Nurses want to “help” maintain a safe, secure environment, which can lead to conflicts.

During the practice of nursing, professionals have to make many judgment calls every day, asking themselves “what is confidentiality” and “does it apply in this case.” These conflicts arise in hospitals, private practice offices and treatment facilities across the nation.

One area where conflicts arise involves observing actions or overhearing conversations. When a nurse has information that indicates a patient is behaving irresponsibly, and others may be harmed, confidential guidelines help shape decisions. Determining who needs to know is often the most challenging judgment call. Some situations seem benign, while others are serious.

Examples of Conflict

•A nurse becomes aware that an HIV patient is having unprotected sexual encounters.
•A nurse observes a patient/co-worker taking prescribed narcotics for pain while treating patients.
•A nurse hears a doctor discussing patient treatment with an unauthorized family member, later the family member asks the nurse for more details.
•A hospitalized patient is taken to have surgery and a friend stops by to ask why the patient is not in his or her room.
•A friend is a patient and a mutual friend asks about the patient’s health or recent doctor visit.

Kathy Quan, RN, BSN, PHN wrote an interesting article called “Confidentiality and Your Nursing Job” for Nursing Together. In her article, she reminds prospective students and nurses to carefully consider patient privacy and she challenges nurses to thoroughly answer the question, “What is confidentiality?” before pursuing a career in nursing. Considering a breach could result in job loss, legal actions and physical, emotional or financial damages, which is excellent advice for nursing students to heed.

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Gain Knowledge and Skills While You Earn Your Nursing Degree at Fortis!
  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
  • Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
  • GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
  • A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
  • Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities and social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
  • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Kaplan University Online Degree Programs
  • Attend college on your terms. Kaplan University offers fully online degree programs that fit any schedule.
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Current RNs can choose from RN to BSN or RN to MSN online programs
  • RN-to-BSN program offers courses in Illness and Disease Management, Principles of Assessment, and Holistic Professional Nursing
  • RN to MSN specializations include Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology and more
  • Courses help develop students’ assessment, patient care, and community outreach skills
  • South University brings over 115 years of achievement and tradition to a supportive, online classroom
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
  • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
  • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
  • Michigan's largest independent college.
  • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
  • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • BSN completion program for Registered Nurses is available entirely online.
  • The RN to BSN program is designed to help students advance their career, or prepare for post-graduate opportunities.
  • Courses teach modern health assessment and treatment methods, how to evaluate potential disease or injury, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Courses
  • eLearners.com Helps You Find the Right College within Minutes.
  • Get Matched to the Perfect Medical Degree Programs From Top Colleges Here.
  • Learn at Your Own Pace and Get Qualified to Pursue a Career You Will Love.
  • Answer a Few Questions and You Are One Step Closer to Enroll in a Top College!
  • Online Courses
  • Earn your Master of Public Health Online from GW in 12 months.
  • GRE waivers available for qualified applicants.
  • Advance your career in a range of industries, including epidemiology, public health and biostatistics.
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Works closely with an advisory board from the medical community to ensure that their curriculum, equipment and instruction are current and relevant.
  • Offers special tuition pricing for Veterans, Active Duty Military and spouses/qualifying dependents of all Active Duty, National Guard and Reserves.
  • ABHES-accredited:  An  advantage upon graduation
  • Short-term education:  Programs range from 10 months to 2 years
  • Blackboard Learn mobile allows students to complete assignments on the go.
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
  • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
  • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Nursing Degree Programs from Grand Canyon University's College of Nursing & Health Care Professions
  • Degree Variety: GCU offers a full-spectrum of nursing programs including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as post-master’s certificates.
  • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.aacn.nche.edu-accreditation).
  • GCU provides a Christian environment that provides an opportunity for you to embrace a holistic approach to caring for patients: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Depending on the degree you choose, you could take online, evening, or on-campus classes. Speak with an enrollment counselor to discuss your options!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Kaplan University Online Degree Programs
  • Attend college on your terms. Kaplan University offers fully online degree programs that fit any schedule.
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Online Bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, Psychology, IT, Healthcare Management & Public Health
  • Over 115 years of delivering quality education and personalized attention to students
  • Provide a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services
  • Give students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
  • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
  • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
  • Michigan's largest independent college.
  • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
  • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • BSN completion program for Registered Nurses is available entirely online.
  • The RN to BSN program is designed to help students advance their career, or prepare for post-graduate opportunities.
  • Courses teach modern health assessment and treatment methods, how to evaluate potential disease or injury, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Courses

Login to your account

Can't remember your Password ?

Register for this site!