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Reality Unscripted
Nursing Blind:When Information Is Withheld

I have a friend who told me a story the other day, and I wanted to share it with you.  It concerns confidentiality, but not in the way you might think.  You see, she was the one left out of the loop and it affected the way she cared for someone.  Let me know what you think.

She is a school nurse and meets weekly with the school counselors to discuss the overall health of kids.  She and the other nurses are often sharing things about students that may affect their psychological health, feeling like it is a team effort to care for these kids.

The other day she found out that one of the students has Bulimia.  Apparently, it's something the counselors have known, but did not share with the nurses because it was confidential.  This nurse feels like they should have been told in order "to safely assess and treat any physical condition with the student. At the end of the day, it's my butt on the line when things go wrong with the kid's health. It's me the parents yell at first/threaten to sue."

In fact, she HAS treated this student for physical issues she now knows are associated with the Bulimia.
The counselors still feel like this kind of information should never be shared.  The nurses think they need this kind of information in order to do their jobs fully.

So what do you think?  Does confidentiality trump giving a patient the best possible care, or does patient care win out?  Let us know where you fall on this issue.

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4 Responses to “Nursing Blind:When Information Is Withheld”

  1. cindy creen Says:

    all information should be shared with the nurse, we are health care professionals. if we keep nursing off the list of confidentiallity then what is the point. i also work for a company that with holds information making it impossible somedays to give good care, as u know something else is wrong but it is not in your file or chart. we as nurses are put in charge of patients no matter where we work and we take that confidentially seriously. she is putting her license on the line. document document. that no one thought you should know about the childs illness hold them responsible for not letting you do your job. counslors are also part of our team and why should they know bulimenia is also physical aliments that are noted and need to be assessed. it is not all mental. anyway health is health. these counselors are incorrect and not part of team management.

  2. Rachel Says:

    I’m kind of on both sides of the issue. I am a nurse but my husband has medical information about himself he would rather never be told to anyone. He grew up in an abusive home and has many physical long lasting injuries because of it. I can give the general injury to a medical professional, but withhold the cause and extent of the issue. (ie, his one kidney doesn’t function as well as it should because of a frying pan to the flank as a child)

    I have decided and told him that if any of these injuries or the withholding of the information will change his care I will speak up, but otherwise I will respect his wishes. And our mutual health care representative knows all his injuries as well just in case I am not available to speak up.

    If it changes the care, it needs to be shared.

  3. Andrea Says:

    When it comes to confidentiality, I believe that if you are not providing care for the patient, there is no need for you to know his or her information. To seek out information about one you are not providing care for is plain nosey. If you are the one providing care to the patient, it is ABSOLUTELY necessary to know all pertinent information. Isn’t that what HIPAA is all about? Them telling the nurse about the situation would not have been a breach of HIPAA. The faculty was out of line to refuse to disclose this information They may have thought that they were acting within the best interests of the studet, but they certainly were not.

  4. Kelly Says:

    I agree with Andrea. How do you care for a patient properly and to your best ability when you don’t have all the information?

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