The public just doesn't get it.

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    The public just doesn't get it. The confidentiality thing. Yesterday at work, I got a phone call. I answer the phone "Med/Surg, this is ....," Caller "Is John Doe there?" I could tell right away that this was NOT a family member. I reply, "may I ask who is calling?" "A neighbor." "Sorry, I can't release any information." "His wife ask me to take care of their dogs and I need to see how he is doing." "Sorry, I can't release any info. You should try to contact the family." "I just need to know, is he there." "I can't release any info." "Can I talk to your charge nurse." "She is assisting with a procedure (which she really was) and can't come to the phone. But she will tell you that we can't release any information." Then I hear a click.

    Funny thing was, this lady had called our ICU right before she called me. She told the ICU nurse that she thought the pt was right outside of the ICU because the ICU was full and couldn't take him. The ICU nurse told her that she didn't know who was out on our floor. (We work at a small facility) The lady tried the same nonsense with the ICU nurse. Some people just never give up.

    Gee, I hate the telephone sometimes.

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  2. 37 Comments...

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    What gets me is when people manage to get private info over the phone. I no longer see the advantage in having an unlisted, unpublished phone number. The wrong person always gets that number sooner or later. And you know that someone is providing that info.
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    Unless a pt specifies at admission that they do not want any info given out, we can verify if we have a certain pt and give out their room number and phone number. Period. I work in OB and have had more than one caller/visitor angry with me because I will not give out even the sex of the baby (or if the baby has even arrived). I tell people that the parents get to give out the happy news and I don't want to ruin that for them. Most people are understanding, but some people just don't get it and will try to pressure me. I had one visitor go to administration to complain because she was the baby's "aunt" and "had a right to know." Guess which side administration backed? BTW, Mom wasn't married to "auntie's" brother and did not want any info given out including whether or not she was a pt.
    Last edit by indynurse on Aug 26, '02
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    The public doesn't seem to understand confidentiality until it applies to them. Until it's personal, they feel entitled to any information they want.

    The recent one that really fried me was the son of a patient who was a physician in another state (he said) who insisted that he could read his parent's chart, or rather have the information given to him. He further insisted that his parent had an advance directive that said he could do this. Of course, we didn't have any record of the AD. He huffed and puffed and took names and said he would check with his colleagues in his state, huffed and puffed at me some more. Threatened me with his brother, the lawyer (had to refrain from saying "ooh I'm soo scared.") and still didn't get his way. And, yes, he ever so politely slammed the phone in my ear.

    Even healthcare people don't get it.
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    Some people really are clueless. Does anyone else have problems with visitors? I get tired of the ones that abuse visiting hours, show up with screaming babies or let the little ones run up and down the hall, Show up with 4 foot potted plants, giant balloon sculptures, and monster stuffed animals. How about the fruit and cheese basket for the patient that had gastric sx for cancer and is on TPN. I remember the indignant look a woman gave me when she brought cut flowers and asked me for a vase! Please, I know visiting hours have been made too lenient but people should realize we have small, semi-private rooms and very sick patients. My boss told me that under no circumstance would the unit consider altering the visiting policy, it is up to the nurse to make sure visitors don't disturb the other patients. I want to tell these troublesome vistitors, that if they really wanted to do something for they're loved ones go home and cut their grass or something!
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    Oh the family members who are healthcare workers are the worst! I just want to scream when the person on the phone (or in person) tells me "I am a nurse, doctor, and I have right to know." Not unless 1) you are directly involved in the pt's care 2)
    are the parent of a minor who is a pt, 3) or the healtcare POA for the pt. Otherwise, butt out. I did really honk off a family member once. The lady marches out of the room, and says I am so and so's granddaughter, and I AM NURSE , I want to know what is going on. My prompt reply was "So, if you are a nurse, you know that I cannot tell you anything. You will need to talk to your grandmother." If administration refuses to back me up, I just calmly remind them of "breach of confidentiality" and of the new HIPPA regs. Not a whole for them to say otherwise.
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    On my unit the phones in the pt rooms get cut-off at 9pm, no outside calls can come in. One night I had a pt tell me she didn't want any calls, she wanted to sleep. Her son called at about 9:30pm to talk to her, couldn't get through so he called the nurses's station. I told him exactly what the pt had told me about wanting to sleep, he insisted he talk to his mother. I checked with the pt to make sure she did not want this call (she didn't) and I told her son I would not transfer it in to the pt. He threatened me with everything he could, the pt ended up taking the call. What is wrong with people? If somebody in the hospital wants to sleep maybe they shouldn't be bothered!
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    We are forever fielding phone calls at the nurses station, usually leaving a patient's room to do so. Then we waste more time away from the patient explaining why we can't tell them anything. Visitors are just as bad. They sightsee into every room on their way to their destination and then ask "what is wrong with that lady in the room as you come in?" I feel like saying "SHE'S SICK!!! DUH!!!!!" Makes a difficult situation even tougher.
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    Today I was doing pictures, measurements and documentation on extensive wounds on one of my patients. She requested to know the name of another patient in such and such room, that she had walked by earlier. Explained I could not give her that information. I got, well I think I know him. My response was to again explain that I had to keep patient confidentiality and could not give her that information. OK, so what was next? What happened to the guy that has that metal thing around his head. Explained the metal thing is called a halo and that I was not at liberty to tell her what had happened to him. So she asked, was he in an accident? By now I am feeling very annoyed, how many ways can I explain I can not give out any information on patients to her? I am in the room with her for nearly an hour doing the required documentation and redressings, by the time I left the room I wanted to shoot myself. She literally asked about at least half of the patients on the floor, not to mention wanting to know what other wounds I was currently taking care of. UUHHGGG!
    Then there are the cases the public knows about because of the news. Had a young man try to committ suicide by jumping off a building a couple months ago, he survived and I can't even remember how many visitors asked about his status, including people in the elevator. Sometimes I just want to say, DUH!
  11. 0
    Originally posted by Dr. Kate
    The public doesn't seem to understand confidentiality until it applies to them. Until it's personal, they feel entitled to any information they want.

    The recent one that really fried me was the son of a patient who was a physician in another state (he said) who insisted that he could read his parent's chart, or rather have the information given to him. He further insisted that his parent had an advance directive that said he could do this. Of course, we didn't have any record of the AD. He huffed and puffed and took names and said he would check with his colleagues in his state, huffed and puffed at me some more. Threatened me with his brother, the lawyer (had to refrain from saying "ooh I'm soo scared.") and still didn't get his way. And, yes, he ever so politely slammed the phone in my ear.

    Even healthcare people don't get it.

    I had a new resident from Tx call here to AZ about his mom. I knew he was a new resident...because first it was the end of July...and we all know what happens in July. Second he was miffed because the his mom's MD didn't call him, and show him any "professional" curteousy(sp??) ...sign. Anyway...he called me up a second time...and after I had already told him I had given the MD his message...when I called and got his mom a Rx for a sleeper. He wanted me to call the MD..asap...and tell him he wanted him to call him!! Now you know what I told him... NOT gonna do it! He said...you're not going to do what I asked?? Did I stutter??? He said why??? I told him...that I had informed the MD of his request...and I was not going to call him again...and tell him the same thing. But he was welcome to call his office...and leave that very same message. He politely thanked me...and asked to speak back with his mother... I felt sorry for him...as his mom was here, and he was a long ways away...but I wasn't that sorry...as to be stupid enough to make that phone call...:chuckle!
    Last edit by Brownms46 on Aug 26, '02


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