Student Nurses and Patient Confidentiality

  1. Im a student nurse doing an essay on the ethical principles of confidentiality. I wondering if a patient tells a student nurse something which they wish to remain private, but may be considered detrimental to their health is it ethically right for a student to tell their preceptor...

    Is it right in saying a student nurse is kind of like a mirror to their preceptor. Nothing can be told to a student nurse in confidence
  2. Visit walkiez profile page

    About walkiez

    Joined: Jun '06; Posts: 10

    3 Comments

  3. by   RebeccaJeanRN
    I don't agree that "nothing can be told to a student nurse in confidence". Things CAN be told to a student nurse in confidence. However, we were always taught that when you are told something that affects health and care, that you are to say "I just want you to know that is something that I'll need to share with your nurse (which may be your preceptor) because its related to your care and health" and then you do that. You are allowed to share with pertinent care givers that which directly affects patient health & care. However, even as a student, you would be personally liable for sharing something that doesn't, and which was told to you within that nursing/patient relationship.
  4. by   Jules A
    My take on this, and folks feel free to jump in if I'm off base, is that since your preceptor is another health care professional on this pts case I don't think it would be a violation of confidentiality to discuss whatever they say. Unless on the off chance they are very clear that they are only telling you and don't want you to repeat it I would probably stop them and say that I can't make that kind of promise.
  5. by   Daytonite
    Quote from walkiez
    I wondering if a patient tells a student nurse something which they wish to remain private, but may be considered detrimental to their health is it ethically right for a student to tell their preceptor...
    Absolutely. When the patient is admitted to the facility, they sign a consent for treatment. That consent gives the caregivers of the facility permission to perform their work. Part of that work involves the assessment and collection of data. The healthcare team has a right to be notified of something that is detrimental to the patient's health. You could specifically qualify it by saying that the patient asked that the information remain private, but I believe that it needs to be disclosed.

    Many years ago I had a patient who attempted suicide by taking a razor blade and slashing both sides of his neck trying to cut his jugular veins and then both wrists. I walked into this bloody mess at 6am one morning to give this patient medication. Turned out that he had told several nurses the evening before that he wouldn't be around the next day. He also tried to give away some of his things and then begged the nurses to promise not to say anything to anyone when they refused his efforts. He was a COPD'er who wasn't being discharged anywhere. Aside from the nurses failing to recognize the signs that he might have a suicide plan in place, no one reported any of his statements or attempts to give away his possessions at shift report. We could have prevented this tragedy and saved the patient 4 hours of suturing that took place the next morning.

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