Probe into nurse’s conjoined baby photo

2008-12-21 00:00

In a direct breach of patient confidentiality, pictures of the conjoined twins at Grey’s Hospital have allegedly been shown to staff at a neighbouring health institution by a nurse who captured the image on her cellphone.

The father of the twins has refused any media access to the babies.

It is alleged that a nurse took photographs of the twins when she was posted at Grey’s Hospital and has been showing them to staff at the Townhill Hospital. The nurse’s name is known to The Witness.

The KZN Health Department told The Witness they are investigating allegations of a breach in patient’s right to confidentiality. Spokesman Leon Mbangwa said the department will not protect staff who “trample on patient’s rights”.

“All our employees are bound by the Patients’ Rights Charter, which among other things stipulates, ‘Information concerning a patient’s health, including information concerning treatment, may only be disclosed with informed consent, except when required in terms of any law or an order of the court’.”

The SA Nursing Council (SANC) also warned that nurses are required to maintain patient confidentiality. SANC spokeswoman Hasina Subedar said that if patient confidentiality is violated, the nurse may be charged with professional misconduct.

She said the department is also responsible for the protection of patient rights.

“Employers of nurses play a significant role in ensuring that patient confidentiality in their institutions is not violated and that they set and maintain a code of conduct for their employees … ”

Subedar said any person who has details regarding this incident can lodge a complaint with SANC.

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