I have a client who asked me if I have experience working with other patients with the same syndrome that she has. I told her that yes I have another client with the same syndrome. She asked me general questions about the client (to see if they are going through the same thing she is) I did not give any specifics about the client, such as their name, birthdate, address, etc (the other client is through another job so she doesn't even know which agency they are with). But she was intrigued because she doesn't know many people personally going through what she is. I was cautious in my answers but I'm still worried I shouldn't have said anything? Could this be a privacy breach?
Last edit by Brian S. on Aug 15
As long as you didn't give any patient identifiers or any information that could lead your client to guess who the other client might be, you're fine. If you were giving specifics to the syndrome and that alone, there shouldn't be much that you shared in the area of patient information. However, if your client knows some people with her syndrome and may possibly know your other client, you could be getting into some sticky areas.
It depends on how rare the syndrome is, I would think. I've taken care of a patient or two with diseases so rare there's only 20 or so people in the whole US with their disease. I won't even mention the disease names here to protect their privacy. Since you have two active patients with the same syndrome I'm guessing that's not the scenario here.
I think in this situation you didn't technically breach confidentiality, but in my opinion it wouldn't remove all cause for concern when deciding what to discuss while on the job. This is based on my observations, which I understand might not apply to yours.
My experience is that if you're discussing your cases, even if you are dealing with 2 agencies, it's surprising what a small world private duty nursing actually is. Nurses, clients and agencies is like musical chairs.
It's common in my area for nurses to network amongst themselves if they know of a case with open hours to fill, their location (for driving distance)'age, diagnosis, family who may be living in the home, etc. So they can be identified in multiple ways without knowing their name and much more than would be the case if they had an assigned room number in a facility.
But, you're not doing anything other than advocate for your patient who has indicated interest in the experiences of others living with the same diagnosis, so maybe you can help facilitate that if she is interested.
No, you didn't share any personal information regarding the other patient .
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