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Professor Anthony Warrens - May column

Friday 3 May 2013

Hello Everyone,

I would like to use this column to remind you of something that I know you are all fully aware of ¾ the crucial importance of patient confidentiality and data protection.

Over the past couple of weeks a piece of paper was found on public transport adjacent to Newham Hospital which contained patient names, dates of birth, hospital numbers, diagnoses and locations within hospital.  This is clearly a gross breach of confidentiality.  It is the sort of thing that really undermines the service in the eyes of the public and, most importantly, impacts in our ability to retain the confidence of our patients.  I have to emphasise to you that it is really important that people take great care not to lose any patient-identifiable information.

You might want to consider ensuring that nothing you write down is patient-identifiable.  There may be enough information for you to remind yourself or the person involved by initials and age rather than date of birth or some other form of current address.  Please do not put anything that can be traced back to an individual patient.

I’m absolutely sure that this problem in particular and problems such as this in general never arise out of malicious intent.  It is almost always just thoughtlessness or carelessness.  Unfortunately, the ramifications can be highly significant so I would be very grateful if you could give thought to as you proceed through your clinical career.


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