ETHICAL PROBLEMS: Breach of confidence

June 2005 
Volume 35  Number 6
Pages 20 - 20
  PDF Version Available!


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    My friend, who chairs the nursing department at a local university, told me about a serious medication error made by “Jane,” a staff nurse at the local hospital. She learned about this information from Jane's nurse-manager .

    I suspect the nurse-manager felt obligated to “warn” the university because Jane represents the university as a clinical instructor. I also suspect my friend told me about this because I was Jane's nurse-manager and a former faculty member at the university .

    What are the legal, ethical, and privacy bounds of confidentiality among professional colleagues? —H.H., WIS.

    Engaging in gossip is one of life's great temptations, and many people rationalize sharing confidential information as necessary to “warn,” or “protect,” others. In fact, it's unethical and destructive. In this situation, the lack of confidentiality could also ...

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