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Audit of disposal of clinically confidential information

  • Craige Dietrich (a1), Zahir Khan (a1) and James Warner (a2)
Abstract
Aims and Method

We conducted a 3-cycle audit of disposal of clinically sensitive information in a mental health unit, in order to identify and reduce potential breaches in patients' confidentiality. Material from waste bins in administrative areas of a mental health unit was examined every evening during each period of the audit.

Results

The first search, conducted over a 3-week period, yielded 11 documents containing highly-sensitive information about patients. After feedback to staff and improvement of shredding facilities, no sensitive information was found during the follow-up 3-week survey, 3 months later. However, a third survey 2 years later found 24 highly-sensitive items after one week, despite shredding facilities being maintained.

Clinical Implications

Changes in behaviour identified in this audit appear to be due to education rather than improved facilities. All staff involved in patient care need to maintain awareness of the need for safe disposal of confidential material.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Dolan, B. (2004) Medical records. Disclosing confidential clinical information. Psychiatric Bulletin, 28, 5356.
National Health Service (2003) Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice. London: Department of Health: www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/06/92/54/04069254.pdf
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Audit of disposal of clinically confidential information

  • Craige Dietrich (a1), Zahir Khan (a1) and James Warner (a2)
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