As a health information professional, I have a number of ethical obligations competing with each other to consider in this situation. This is a difficult scenario, and there is no easy answer.
What should I do?
As a health information professional, I should respect the privacy and confidentiality of patient information. I should not disclose any information about a patient’s health status without their explicit consent. However, it is important to note that I am not a counselor or a therapist. My primary role is to provide patients with information about their health status and to help them make informed decisions about their care. I should not try to counsel my friend or interfere with her relationship with her husband. I’d encourage the patient to speak with his healthcare provider about the importance of informing close contacts (especially his wife) regarding the condition.
As a health information professional, can I tell my friend?
As a health information professional, I must protect the confidentiality of patient information. Patients have the right to make decisions about their health care, including who has access to their medical information. However, I also have to act in the best interests of my patients and avoid causing harm to them. In this situation, I may need to balance the two ethical obligations of confidentiality and beneficence. If I decide to tell my friend about her husband’s HIV infection, it is important to do so in a sensitive and supportive way. I should be prepared to answer her questions and provide her with information about HIV and how to protect herself. Although there is a serious ethical dilemma, I don’t have the skills or experience to handle that kind of situation, and I think it is not my duty to disclose such kind of sensitive information, regardless of my close relationship with the patient and my friend. So, I cannot tell my friend about her husband’s health status without his consent.
Can I interfere with other people or family issues?
No, it is not appropriate for me to interfere in other people’s personal or family issues, especially when it involves sensitive and confidential health information. My role as a health information professional is to provide patients with information about their health status and to help them make informed decisions about their care.
But should my friend not know about this because she might be at risk?
My friend should know about her husband’s HIV infection because she may be at risk. While I might be concerned about my friend’s health, it is not my place to disclose this information. If I am concerned, I might consider encouraging her husband to share this information with her. Another thing I consider is to disclose this information to my supervisor to discuss the situation and get their input. They can help me to weigh the different ethical factors involved and to make a decision that is in the best interests of both people.
How will I follow the fundamental principles about the right to self-determination, doing good and doing no harm to others?
I can follow these principles by respecting the patient’s right to self-determination and privacy and by acting in a way that does not cause harm. This means not disclosing the patient’s health status without their consent. By respecting patient autonomy, I uphold the right to self-determination. I am also following the principles of doing good by supporting the patient in making informed decisions about their health. By maintaining patient confidentiality, I am adhering to the principle of doing no harm to others.
Isn’t it my obligation and the right of the subject to hold the information?
Yes, as a health information professional, it is my obligation, and the patient has the right to control who has access to their medical information. I also need to respect his right to self-determination.