As I walked my dogs today a hospital phoned. I hasten to add this is *not* the one where I work, but I won’t say which one.
Yesterday I’d made a formal complaint about the lack of confidentiality in that place.
- Yesterday I’d had to go there as part of a minor family emergency, and hadn’t been impressed to watch patients sitting in corridors having their medial conditions discussed for all to hear.
- Late last year I’d been weighed there – on a set of scales in a public corridor with at least a dozen people watching; one of whom commenting “one at a time please” in what he thought was a joke about my weight.
- Within a few weeks of that episode I’d stood outside the MRI scanner on the footpath leading out of the car park with dozens of people walking to and fro listening to my answers to a supposedly confidential questionnaire.
- Last November I’d sat in the waiting area for blood tests which is in the main reception area of the hospital (with no privacy at all) and had come home to half a dozen messages from friends who’d seen me sitting there and wanted to know why.
- Whilst having a cuppa in a hospital canteen before an outpatient appointment I couldn’t help but overhear several doctors discussing a particular patient.
- When I had my operation last month I’d listened to all the sordid details of the chap in the bed opposite me as the medics shouted that which I would have thought should have been confidential.
This morning I was asked about the specific details of what confidences had been breached. The person dealing with my complaint seemed utterly unable to understand the difference between a general observation and a specific complaint.
Apparently a general complaint was no good to them as there was no specific manager to deal with it. I suggested the hospital’s chief executive, or failing that the Minister for Health(!)
But here’s something from which we can all learn. If we are speaking with or about a patient, before you open your mouth have a look around. Who else can hear what you are saying?