The Implications of Confidentiality for Nurses

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Confidentiality: Implications for nurses The ethical principle of confidentiality is one of the core principles of nursing, along with beneficence and nonmalfeasance. "Confidentiality...means that the information shared with other persons will not be spread abroad and will be used only for the purposes intended. A patient's sharing of private information imposes a duty of confidentiality on health care providers. That duty means providers will share information only on a need-to-know basis" (Silva & Ludwick 1999). Of course, what constitutes 'need to know' is a very subjective estimation. Does a nurse have an ethical obligation to inform the partner of someone with AIDS when the nurse knows the patient is having unprotected sex? In many states, there are statutory guidelines of which the nurse must be aware. For example, while "Georgia statutory law defines AIDS Confidential Information (ACI) and makes the confidentiality requirements for the disclosure of ACI more stringent than those for other medical records," there is also a legal requirement that HIV-infected persons must disclose their status before engaging in intercourse or sharing needles (HIV Unit, 2012, GDPH). Under such guidelines, a nurse may feel conflicted, feeling "patients are limiting information shared with health care providers, thus protecting privacy at the cost of impairing their health" (Silva & Ludwick 1999). Like all healthcare providers, nurses are bound by the federal Health Insurance
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