HCAs work closely with their patients/clients and have access to their health records. Under State Law and moral obligation, the information gleaned from these records and from the patient must be kept confidential. This means it must not be shared with anyone outside the multidisciplinary care team (MDT). It must not be shared with the MDT either except on a need to know basis and out of earshot of anyone else who might be listening.
Never discuss patient information on social media, it is not secure and not safe.
The following is a true story which occurred about twenty years ago. At that time a single mum was not entitled to the lone parents’ allowance if living with a partner. I’m sure the rule around welfare has changed since then but the moral of the story is the same.
An Example: in the staff room of a health centre a Registered Nurse (RGN) was talking to the Public Health Nurse (PHN) about a single mum who was up most of the night with her ill baby. The RGN assured the PHN that the young mum was not alone as the baby’s father was living there and was helpful. During this conversation the Welfare Officer was in the staffroom on his break. He noted the conversation and the name of the young mum. The next day he visited and although there were no signs of a male living in the flat with her, the Welfare Officer stopped her lone parents’ allowance based on what the RGN had said.
It is important when writing notes in the patient’s chart to express facts only and not to make assumptions. Remember, patients can gain access to their health records and the notes you have written may be challenged.
If you are concerned about the health or welfare of a patient you are caring for, the person to go to for advice is your immediate line manager.