Friday, August 15, 2008

Client Confidentiality: Is it time to use PDA's

A UK community midwife lost her diary that contained 350 names and details of all her clientele. As you are aware this could be catastrophic for some of these women. The hospital wrote to all the women apologising for the mishap and assured the women it was not their records however acknowledged how serious this incident was in terms of breaching client confidentiality. You might be asking is this easy to do? I can think of several high profile cases lately of leaked/lost information for example; what about the AFL footballers whose medical records were allegedly found in a public place, and politicians who have misplaced sensitive information/documents on the train. I am sure you will be able to think of many more examples.
We all acknowledge that confidentially is the corner stone of our Code of Ethics and we do our up most to protect patient/client confidentiality within the scope of our practice. No part of any patient/client records can be photocopied or taken home by nursing/midwifery staff. However community and independent midwives have a different set of rules, also in this category are Nurse Practitioners and Remote Area Nurses.

May be we need to embrace the technological age and we should be using PDA's (personal data assistants or organisers) - you can have it password protected and synchronised with your computer, personal and hospital. There are many different types and prices on the market, off course it means the hospital has to invest in the package deal for all computers/systems. The question is will they?

I know that Silver Chain Nurses use PDA's very effectively and to my knowledge have not had breaches with confidentiality and if you do misplace your organiser it is backed up to the main computer and password protected. I have also noticed more and more restaurants use them as well to improve communication and legibility for their staff.

I personally use a HP iPAQ 112 and find it brilliant, you can get all sorts of programs to upload, for example; due date and pregnancy progress; dictionaries, you can upload policies and have them at your finger tips etc. I also believe this is the way of the future, yes I know that there are very clever hackers out there but for the most part they are not interested in our health details, I hope this is not a naive view.

1. Let me know if your area uses a PDA?
2. What do you think about using a PDA?


Sarah Stewart said...

Its funny - I am so digitalised but I just can't let go of my paper diary. Why's that?

infomidwife said...

change is very difficult Sarah, you know the old saying old habits die hard. Making the change from the paper diary to the PDA is a big step, so what you do is take little steps, you will find it amazing and you can link it into your computer. Go shoping and have a look and play with them. It does take some time to adjust but once you do you will love it.

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