Module 4: How do I maintain confidentiality?

Remember: People have the right to control the collection, use, sharing and retention of personal information and personal health information. It is your responsibility to hold patient and employee information in the highest confidence.

Note that Privacy laws do not affect mandatory reporting by Regulated Health Professionals - e.g. reportable diseases, child abuse, etc.

1.  Discuss the intended use and sharing of the information with the individual, and respect their decisions regarding use and sharing. You are permitted to release personal health information to other health care providers who will be providing medical care to the patient. You may do this without express consent provided the patient has not told you they do not want their information released to that person/facility.

2.  Protect information that you have in your control:

  • File or put away charts in their proper place
  • Lock filing cabinets and offices,
  • View information - whether in print or on screen - away from other's view,
  • Do not store personal health information on the hard drive of any computer,
  • Log off your secure network application when you are finished. 

3.  Do not e-mail confidential or sensitive information with identifiable staff and patient clinical information to sources outside of TDMH unless patient consent has been provided.

4.  Maintain the confidentiality of information about staff and affiliates the same as patient information. Respect your colleagues' right to privacy.

5.  Access only the information that is essential for you to do your work, whether it is providing direct care to a patient or providing services to the hospital. This includes accessing you own record or that of your family and friends. Accessing information that does not pertain to your work may result in disciplinary action.

6.  Do not share your password. Log out of the hospital network system when you are finished. 

7.  Dispose of printed confidential information by putting it in confidential waste receptacles or by shredding the documents.

8.  Consider the sensitivity of information being sent via inter-departmental mail. If sensitive, send in a sealed envelope.

9.  Discuss confidential information in private areas, where others cannot overhear the information. DO NOT discuss confidential information in public areas such as:

  • Elevators
  • Cafeteria
  • Coffee shops, retail spaces
  • Other patient's rooms
  • Hallways
  • In public
  • At home 

10.  When using wireless devices like laptops and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA):

  • Password protect all your programs
  • Keep the information you store on your device to a minimum - get in the habit of downloading and uploading your work from the hospital's virtual drives
  • Remove patient-identifying information from these devices as much as possible
  • Ensure the security of your PDA and laptops when not in use. Do not leave them unattended. If the device must be left in your car, secure it in the trunk and away from view of would-be thieves.

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