Case Study

Beware the corridor conversation


Two students were doing their clinical placement in the same hospital and often conferred with each other regarding patients they had seen and cases in which they were involved. One day when they met in the lift, they discussed the details of one of the patients. The conversation went a little like this…

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Student A: Have you seen Mrs X’s foot?
Student B: Yes, isn’t it gross?
Student A: It’s hard to imagine how anyone could have such horrendous cellulitis – they’re going to have to chop it off.
Student B: I know – it’s just so revolting… poor old bat – still – I guess the fact that she has dementia will probably help … she probably won’t remember a thing about it!  Ha ha!

Unfortunately there were two other people in the lift with them that day … Mrs X’s elderly husband and daughter. They were furious that such a casual, disrespectful conversation had occurred and reported the medical students to the hospital management. 

The family was also outraged that confidential and personal medical information was apparently available to people who had no understanding or respect for patients and their privacy. 

The students reported this incident to MIPS, however, fortunately on this occasion the matter went no further other than a strong reminder from the hospital and university about the need for privacy and confidentiality about an individual’s healthcare.



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