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EXPERT WARNS ON CONFIDENTIALITY OF PATIENT CARE INFORMATION

By NBF News

The Head of Department Health Records, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Mr. Charles Anumonye has said that the only way to ensure effective relationship between the doctors and patients in the Hospitals is to avoid undue disclosure of patient's health care information

Mr. Anumonye who stated this in a paper he delivered during the sensitization programme on confidentiality of patient care information in the health care system at NAUTH, Nnewi said such undue disclosure has been the bane of patient's attendances in many health care sectors in Nigeria.

In the paper titled, Confidentiality of Patient Care Information as a Panacea for a sustained patient/Physician Relationship in the Health Care Industry, the University scholar explained the condition under which patient's information can be released to a third party and its legal consequences.

Reminding Health Record Officers of their limitations in the release of the patient's information, he noted that 'These records are confidential. It is a privileged communication given in course of patient-doctor relationship. Any attempt to dislodge this relationship without the express or implied consent of either the patient or her assignees is actionable.''

He added that three legal theories are used to support the suit for an authorized disclosure of patient's care information especially where undue disclosure resulted in some damages to the patient. These theories are invasion of privacy, breach of confidential relationship and defamation.

He further stated 'The point is that as professionals we must ensure that patient's information does not get into the hands or ears of the third parties without their express consent. We must understand that most patients divulge very personal and confidential information of themselves to the care provider with the hope that the care provider truly understands the confidential nature of such information. This is born out of the Hippocratic Oath which Health Care practitioners attest to on their swearing in into the profession.''