Tuesday, 2 August 2016

CONFIDENTIALITY: 1 of 21 VIRTUES every PROFESSIONAL must POSSESS




  1. Confidentiality

´  Issues of confidentiality fraught with recurring storms of professional- client relationship. Standards in some professions have been very high with regards to the issue of confidentiality. For instance since the Oath of Hippocrates, medical practitioners have been bound to protect confidences. The principle as reaffirmed in the 1949 International Code of Medical Ethics states,

“A doctor shall preserve absolute secrecy on all he knows about his patient because of the confidence entrusted in him”.

´  The professional’s foundation is built on confidence (Trust). Trust is the glue that holds people together, hence the professional life is greatly affected when trust is broken. This explains why most successful counselors create an environment conducive enough to inspire confidence among clients.  When professionals offer trust, they expect clients to reciprocate.

´  If a professional reveals information about his/her client to an unauthorized person, it is known as breach of confidentiality. This is a very problematic issue in professionalism especially when the information needs to be accessed for future preventive purposes. In the nutshell, Confidence must be highly respected by all  professionals.

Case Study

Mr. Y was taken to hospital by his relative after complaining of stomach pains and bowel destruction. Following his admission, he underwent a laparotomy, where 20 pellets of carefully- packaged cocaine were found in his abdominal cavity. During the surgery, it was found that Mr. Y’s bowel was perforated, as nine of the pellets had penetrated the bowels; although 17 pellets were successfully removed and three passed from the body in Mr. Y’s stool. Shortly after the surgery, Mr. Y’s condition deteriorated and he developed sepsis as a result of the bowel perforation. After being transferred to intensive care, Mr. Y’s condition eventually improved and he was discharged after making a full recovery.

However, the surgeon who removed the cocaine pellets instructed the other clinical staff present not to take any photographs of them, and to instead repackage them in a resealable storage bag. They were then returned to Mr. Y.

The matter leaked to the media who focused on the failure by the clinical staff to report the illegal drugs.

In view of confidentiality, how can you justify and or unjustified the surgeon (with the clinical staff inclusive) decision of returning the cocaine pellets Mr. Y, instead of reporting the illegal drugs to the appropriate authority?

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Food for Thought
“In every intelligent work, there are limits to the amount of information one can share