Publication:
The role of undergraduate medical students training in respect for patient confidentiality

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Abstract
Background Encouraging professional integrity is vital for providing a standard of excellence in quality medical care and education and in promoting a culture of respect and responsibility. The primary objective of this work consisted of studying the relationship of medical students to the right to patient privacy in Spain, specifically by analysing the conditions for accessing patient clinical histories (CHs). Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted based on a questionnaire sent by e-mail to final-year students at 41 Spanish universities. It had 14 multiple choice and closed questions framed in 3 large blocks. The first question addressed basic general knowledge issues on the right to privacy and the obligation for confidentiality. The two remaining blocks were made up of questions directed towards evaluating the frequency with which certain requirements and action steps related to students attending patients were performed and regarding the guarantees associated with accessing and handling patient CHs both on paper and in the Electronic Medical Record. Results A total of 245 valid replies were considered. A total of 67.8 % of participants were women, with an average age of 24.05 ± 3.49 years. Up to 90.6 % were aware that confidentiality affected the data in CHs, although 43.3 % possessed non-anonymized photocopies of patient clinical reports outside the healthcare context, and only 49.8 % of the students were always adequately identified. A total of 59.2 % accessed patient CHs on some occasions by using passwords belonging to healthcare professionals, 77.2 % of them did not have the patients’ express consent, and 71.9 % accessed a CH that was not anonymised. Conclusions The role of healthcare institutions and universities is considered to be fundamental in implementing educational measures regarding the risks and ethical and legal problems arising from the use of CHs among professionals and students. A thorough study of medical ethics is needed through the analysis of clinical cases and direct exposure to situations in which the patient’s confidentiality is questioned.
Description
MeSH Terms
Medical Subject Headings::Persons::Persons::Age Groups::Adult
Medical Subject Headings::Health Care::Health Care Economics and Organizations::Social Control, Formal::Human Rights::Patient Rights::Confidentiality
Medical Subject Headings::Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment::Investigative Techniques::Epidemiologic Methods::Epidemiologic Study Characteristics as Topic::Epidemiologic Studies::Cross-Sectional Studies
Medical Subject Headings::Health Care::Health Care Quality, Access, and Evaluation::Ethics::Ethics, Professional::Ethics, Clinical::Ethics, Medical
Medical Subject Headings::Check Tags::Female
Medical Subject Headings::Organisms::Eukaryota::Animals::Chordata::Vertebrates::Mammals::Primates::Haplorhini::Catarrhini::Hominidae::Humans
Medical Subject Headings::Check Tags::Male
Medical Subject Headings::Persons::Persons::Age Groups::Adult::Young Adult
Medical Subject Headings::Anthropology, Education, Sociology and Social Phenomena::Education::Students::Students, Health Occupations::Students, Medical
Medical Subject Headings::Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment::Investigative Techniques::Epidemiologic Methods::Data Collection::Records as Topic::Medical Records::Medical Records Systems, Computerized::Electronic Health Records
Medical Subject Headings::Information Science::Information Science::Communications Media::Telecommunications::Electronic Mail
Medical Subject Headings::Health Care::Health Care Economics and Organizations::Social Control, Formal::Human Rights::Civil Rights::Privacy
Medical Subject Headings::Geographical Locations::Geographic Locations::Europe::Spain
Medical Subject Headings::Anthropology, Education, Sociology and Social Phenomena::Education::Schools::Universities
Medical Subject Headings::Anthropology, Education, Sociology and Social Phenomena::Social Sciences::Sociology::Social Control, Formal::Human Rights::Patient Rights::Informed Consent
DeCS Terms
CIE Terms
Keywords
Professionalism, Undergraduate, Medical students, Confidentiality, Ethical issues, Clinical history, Profesionalismo, Educación de pregrado en medicina, Estudiantes de medicina, Confidencialidad, Ética, Registros médicos
Citation
Beltran-Aroca CM, Ruiz-Montero R, Labella F, Girela-López E. The role of undergraduate medical students training in respect for patient confidentiality. BMC Med Educ. 2021 May 12;21(1):273.