Confidential data? Don’t be nosy!

Posted: 10th November 2017

SecretsYour job may give you access to confidential data but the consequences of giving in to nosiness can be severe indeed. In one case, a midwife who took the opportunity to snoop through the files of patients and others over a 14-year period lost her job and was struck off by her professional body.

The inquisitive woman accessed records of patients, co-workers, friends, a former neighbour and even an ex-boyfriend. The NHS computer system flagged up a confidentiality warning each time that she logged on, which she ignored. She admitted that she knew what she was doing was wrong, but explained that she had simply carried on after years passed without her being caught.

She was eventually investigated after a patient complained that she had passed on information from her medical records to another person. She initially denied wrongdoing but later tearfully admitted that she had been stupidly nosy. She was sacked by the NHS trust for which she worked.

In striking her name from the register of nurses and midwives, the Fitness to Practice Committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Council found that she had repeatedly abused her position of trust. Accessing records without any clinical reason for doing so brought the profession into disrepute and had the potential to undermine the willingness of patients to impart necessary information to clinicians.