I have a couple questions.
I’m slightly familiar with the Canadian Medical Association’s stand on doctor-patient confidentiality and assume the rules are similar in most of the western world. I’m also aware of physician-patient privilege – the legal concept that prevents doctor-patient discussion from being used in a court of law, except under certain, very specific circumstances.
I do trust that doctor’s take this need for confidentiality very seriously but, to my knowledge, access to patient records is not restricted only to doctors. Office staff, nurses, medical transcription people all might have access to those records.
Reading about a “Get Tested” initiative here in Canada got me thinking. The program is designed to make it easier for anyone to be tested for STD’s. Is embarrassment or confidentiality concerns part or all of the reason we need discreet testing?
And are confidentiality concerns justified?
Does an HIV test imply a high-risk lifestyle? Does getting tested for chlamydia or gonorrhea imply careless promiscuity? Many of us in the lifestyle aren’t too quick to judge but what about the town gossip?
Ethics violations are serious charges for doctors but what about the doctor’s staff? I would assume that dismissal would be the extent of the penalty for outing a patient to friends or acquaintances with “loose lips”. Maybe not a big deal for those who change jobs and employers frequently but for the victim, it could be devastating.
The fact that a patient was tested for something, regardless of the results of the test, is likely as implicating as a positive test result.
So my questions are:
- Is there something bigger preventing medical office personnel from telling the world about the documented discussions that go on between doctor and patient?
- how common do you think it is for someone to be outed after visiting their doctor?
I personally have heard a medical office employee joke and laugh about a TG patient who comes in to the practice regularly for hormone therapy. She volunteered so much detail that I thought she would have certainly provided a name if anyone asked for it.
Luckily no one asked.
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