Patients rightly assume that their conversations with healthcare providers are confidential, and while there’s an implied consent that relevant information may be noted in the medical record, no one expects a rendition of a seemingly privileged conversation to appear in a magazine or newspaper article. Although a television broadcast of a patient’s death, without family consent, is particularly egregious, is publishing an essay about a patient’s personal life that different?
In some instances, say, in an op-ed, a description may be so brief or generalized that it’s unlikely to be linked to a real person.
She was no longer at that phone number, so I searched Facebook.
I found a photo of her and her new spouse, looking happy, and decided against forcing her to revisit that difficult time.
Patients need powerto formulate their values, articulate andachieve health needs, and fulfil theirresponsibilities. The ethical effectivenessof a health system is maximised by empoweringdoctors and patients to develop `adult-adult'rather than `adult-child' relationships thatrespect and enable autonomy, accountability,fidelity and humanity.
Even in adult-adultrelationships, conflicts and complexitiesarise. Lack of concordance between doctors andpatients can encourage paternalism but may bebest resolved through negotiated care.
Residents, new doctors in their most intense years of training, are immersed in stories—stories of the hospital and illness, of tragedies and cures.
They come to the workshop bursting with those stories.
I was proud of the piece and prouder yet when I learned that it would be published. Now, I could omit details that made it more likely someone might recognize her.
So I nixed a few touches that weren’t vital to the piece.