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Patient Confidentiality

At all times, students must be mindful of patient’s confidentiality.

  • You should not include identifying details when discussing a patient’s condition with other students or staff who are not involved in the patient’s care.
  • You should never discuss a patient in a public place eg in elevators or in corridors, even if the patient is not identified. A relative could readily identify whom you are talking about and hear information not disclosed by the patient.
  • You cannot photocopy medical records.
  • You cannot use the hospital’s computer clinical information system to obtain information on a person, which is not relevant to their clinical care.

Seeing Patients on the Ward

If you are seeing patients on the wards unsupervised you must:

  • Identify yourself to a member of the nursing staff. Ensure your ID card is visible.
  • Obtain permission from the nursing staff to see the patient if your team does not know the patient.
  • Introduce yourself to the patient as a “medical student” or “student doctor” and explain the purpose of your visit. The more precise you are about your aims, the more likely the patient will agree.
  • Obtain the patient’s permission. The patient has the right to decline for no stated reason. If the time is not suitable, ask the patient if you can return at a later time.
  • Not disturb a patient who is sleeping, having a meal or undergoing any nursing care.
  • Obtain permission from visitors to interrupt their visit. Ensure you inform visitors when you have finished seeing the patient.
  • Not disturb dressings without the permission of the nursing staff.
  • Not move patients who require assistance without the permission of the nursing staff.
  • Stop immediately if the patient is to be taken off the ward for any reason.
  • Help the patient with dressing, repositioning when you are finished and leave their area as you found it.
  • Return the patient’s medical records and any charts to the appropriate place. Students must not remove any information relating to the patient, including medical records and X-rays, from the ward.
  • Report any incident to the Acting Nurse Unit Manager that may have occurred during your visit that may have harmed the patient or which could result in a complaint. Note that all students are covered by an insurance policy.