Such information is primarily the property of the patient and it is always necessary to check with the patient to whom it is permissible to divulge such information, to what extent, and in what circumstances. Where a patient is competent to give or withhold consent, to divulge information without their express consent amounts to a breach of confidentiality. Any breach of confidentiality constitutes misconduct and will lead to disciplinary action.
However, in order to provide optimal care, the Hospice adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care. Knowledge about patients and their carers may need to be shared with other members of the team, on a strictly “need to know” basis. Nevertheless, permission should always be sought before doing so. Individuals who have access to this information will use it only in the context of their work, and then under conditions that will guarantee its confidentiality.
Discussions concerning patient care should only take place in discreet surroundings and should not be conducted in public areas, corridors, etc. where confidential matters may be overheard.
Clinical and personal information, should only be given by those who have a legitimate claim to it, and then only by an appropriately qualified person.
Special care needs to be exercised regarding telephone enquiries. If necessary, take the name and telephone number of the enquirer and arrange to telephone them back.
Enquiries from other agencies concerning patients or their records should be referred to the Clinical Services Manager, or a member of the clinical team. All enquiries from the police or media must always be referred to the Hospice Manager with the Chair of Trustee being notified as soon as possible thereafter.
Sensitive material may also be learned about the organisation, the staff or volunteers. This should be treated with the utmost confidentiality and not openly or loosely discussed within the Hospice or outside. All staff disciplines and volunteers are reminded of this duty of responsibility towards their colleagues and to the Hospice.
Clinical staff are reminded that they are bound by their respective Codes of Practice.
No Staff or Volunteers’ addresses or telephone numbers to be given out in any circumstances.