Patient privacy

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It is recognized that this worksheet requires some time spent obtaining and reading a number of publications. As a way of ensuring that the allocated time has been spent on the activities a number of self-assessment exercises (SAEs) have been included. The answers to the exercises along with any notes you make and other publications you find, should be kept in your CPD portfolio.

This worksheet does not rely on any specific research, but a list of references including websites and articles of interest related to privacy have been included. This worksheet also follows a pattern that could be used to look at other issues in your professional practice.

It is important to start this worksheet with a clear understanding of what privacy means. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines privacy as:

  1. The state of being private and undisturbed
  2. A person’s right to this

Freedom from intrusion or public attention
Avoidance of publicity.1

Article 8 (Right to Respect for Private and Family Life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as set out in the Human Rights Act 1988, states that:

  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his
  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority  with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or  morals,  or  for  the  protection  of the rights and freedoms of 2

The activities in this worksheet are designed to be followed in order, so please read through everything first, then undertake the reflective exercises in sequence with the help of the notes and suggestions.

  1. What steps do you take to ensure your personal privacy? Write down a list of all the things you do to ensure your own privacy.
  2. Imagine that you have to visit your General Practitioner or go for an outpatient appointment. Using the list you made in Exercise 1, how many aspects of your privacy do you feel may be compromised?
  3. Write a few short notes on how you feel about giving away your privacy. How does it affect you? Are you comfortable with having your privacy disturbed?
  4. Bearing in mind how you feel about your own personal privacy, observe and think about how patients’ privacy is (or is not) preserved in your working practice and environment.
  5. Read through your personal observations and feelings. Think about them; an important part of reflection is thinking.
  6. Following on from the previous exercise, are there any issues that need to be addressed in your working environment?
  7. Put together an achievable action plan with targets and check dates for follow-up.

On completion of this learning activity you will be able to:
  • Critically reflect on what privacy means to you and to patients who visit your department or who you come into contact with in other environments e.g. clinics and wards.

Other professional development activities

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More in this category: « Ethical dimensions to reflection

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