Wednesday 23 January 2013

Mobile phone restriction - patient confidentiality and the public

Since our recent post "Do we have a right to our mobile phone?",  we have been in touch with other people who are writing and debating similar subjects, including the use of social media on inpatient wards.   

There is some interesting information on Wardipedia that looks at internet access and social media on wards. We have been privileged to have made contact with "Little Feet" who has also blogged on the subject on her site Chaos and Control and Jackie recently "lurked" (her words not mine) at a recent twitter webchat that involved Victoria Betton, deputy director at NHS Leeds Trust.

This has made me ask myself the following questions:
  • Are members of the public/patients responsible for adhering to health board confidentiality codes?
  • Are health board staff responsible for making sure that members of the public do not break these confidentiality codes? And if so how far must they go to prevent it?
I don’t really know what the answers are but let me tell you a story about Sheila (not me - totally fictional, I don’t know how to post on my facebook wall).

At a recent visit to my GP, I was sitting in the surgery when my neighbour Brian (he works at the chip shop) turns up in to the waiting room. He was acting strange, talking about being the son of God and then he proceeded to strip. Well I caught it all on my camera phone. By the time they had managed to calm him, and get him and his clothes out of the waiting room, I had downloaded the video as a "Fail" on You Tube and pasted a link on my facebook wall with the comment "you’ll never guess what I saw today".

Afterwards I went to get a bit of shopping, the people I told around the town just couldn’t believe what Brian had been up to, but generally we concluded that it wasn’t really like him and that he must have been very upset about something.  

This was a small town and the GP receptionist was a "facebook friend" of Sheila and saw the video and messages.

So what responsibility do the GP staff have to protect patient confidentiality from other patients in the future? Should they act and try to prevent something like this happening again? Perhaps they could:

    • Put up a poster asking people to respect each other's privacy.
    • Get people to sign something when they join that asks them to respect the privacy of others, detailing consequences if they don’t.
    • Put up a poster asking people not to use their mobile phones.
    • Take people’s phones off them when they check in for their GP appointment.

In the inpatient ward in Bronllys, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, who deliver this service for residents in Powys, have opted for the later approach. 

So what about Sheila …

I am here again at my GP, the atmosphere is very different today.  I feel a bit sorry for the staff, people seem to be angry with them.  How strange, the receptionist has taken my phone off me, she is taking everybody’s. 
Oh no, I forgot to wish Alison good luck with her interview today. I have time, I’ll just get my phone back for a minute and go outside to text.  
Done. Thank goodness I remembered.

Things are running late, I'd better let my husband know he’ll be waiting outside soon otherwise, just pop up again and ask for my phone…

Still waiting, My cousin is here too, she is arranging a surprise party for her Mom. She has been trying to get in touch with our Aunt, but she only had her old number. I have the new one in my phone – dare I ask again! It’s just to get a number, it will only take a second.

Bored, bored, bored. 30 minutes late. Now where is it my daughter’s going next week, capital of Portugal. Can't remember, oh it's bothering me.  I’ll just google it. Doh!

So if it is OK to restrict phones on Bronllys Ward, isn't this acceptable too?  What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with much of what you state in this article. Thanks for sharing Laura.