South Africans using public health services are vulnerable to non-consensual disclosure of their health statuses by the very same people who took an oath to protect and serve the patients.
Patients of the Beaconsfield and Greenpoint clinics are constantly complaining about the lack of professionalism of the nurses and non nursing staff. Prudence Mogomotsi attended antenatal care at the Beaconsfield clinic ,as part of the care pregnant women are expected to take an HIV test as a precautionary measure to protect their unborn children. Mogomotsi was tested for HIV and asked to return the next day for the results,she was given the results while standing in a small passage.
“I was told I need to test for HIV to be able to protect my baby, the test was done and I was asked to return the following day. I came back the next day and my name and another young lady’s name was called by Sister Robinson who said our test results in a small passage out loud. I was shocked at how we were given the results”.
Another woman stopped making use of the clinic in Greenpoint due to a Sister who told her that she’s here to waste their time while she was having an asthma attack.
A young gay man in Springbok refuses to get help at the local clinic because the nurses inform the receptionist about the patients health status.
“I stopped going to the clinic for help because when I get back to my home town everyone knows that I was at the clinic and what I went there for, this is one of the reasons why a lot of gay men around town would rather die than seek help at clinics”.
The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to privacy, including the right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed.
Rule 13 of the Council’s Ethical Guide states that practitioners may only divulge confidential information without the patient’s consent when specific circumstances apply.
The National Health Act makes it an offence to divulge information about health service users without the user’s consent. The only permissible exceptions are when the law or a court order requires disclosure, or if non-disclosure would represent a serious threat to public health. Employed healthcare workers are bound by a confidentiality clause in their contracts.
Northern Cape MEC of Health, Mase Manopole, has established a task team which is currently conducting investigations into claims of breach of patient confidentiality.
The task team will conduct an extensive investigation to test these allegations. The task team is expected to conclude its investigation in four months time and hand over a consolidated report with clear recommendations to the executing authority for further action. The team is expected to gather and analyse information and evidence obtained as well as compile an investigation report.
The first results of the investigation are expected to be delivered to the MEC by end of August. This will give the MEC a chance to go through the finds and decide on the solutions given by the task team affirmed department of health spokesperson, Lebogang Majaha.