"The Patient Confidentiality and Data Protection Act" is a good example of a paper on the health system. Members of the health professionals have the duty to preserve the confidentiality of patient information. The United Kingdom’ s Data Protection of 1998 has created a significant effect in the legislation and safeguarding of the individual’ s privacy to processed personal data (Iversen et al, 2006, p. 165). All NHS employees, including the paramedics, must be made aware of the Data Protection Act as it obtains, records, holds, uses, and shares information following the preservation of confidentiality (Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee, 2006, p. 1). Patient Confidentiality and Data Protection Act Whitmore and Furber (2006) define a UK paramedic as a registered member of the Health Professions Council (HPC) which is trained to do medical work, especially in emergency cases (p.
1). To preserve confidentiality, informed consent, the agreement made by the patient to take active participation in the study after explanation of different harms and benefits (Royal College of Nursing, 2011, p. 3), must be obtained. Meanwhile, the Encyclopedia of Surgery (2011) defines patient confidentiality as an individual right to keep personal, identifiable information private and available only to physicians, health care, and insurance personnel (n. p.). To protect an individual from misuse or abuse of personal information, the United Kingdom Parliament implemented the Data Protection Act of 1998 to preserve information legally and following the patient’ s rights. The Data Protection Act of 1998 contains six Parts and 16 Schedules that outlines the basic rights of data subject and methods of enforcing confidentiality of patient information (SearchStorage. co. the UK, 2011, n. p.). According to the UK Department of Health (2011), the Data Protection Act of 1998 covers the personal data of the living individual, processing of information, health records, and NHS information concerns (n. p.). In some cases, the principles of the Data Protection Act do not apply if the subject has given consent to transfer; and transfer is deemed necessary either in personal interest or substantial public interest (The National Archives, 2011, n. p.). As a guide to paramedic professionals, personal information can only be disclosed to the data subject, to the data subject’ s consent, during life and death situations, if not covered by an exemption, to a notified recipient, and disclosure is necessary for carrying out the purpose (South Eastern Education and Library Board, n.d. , p.
14). For example, processing of records during a medical emergency requires the paramedic to provide the patient with general information, even though the patient assumed that data are available in an emergency.
Consent is not explicit in terms of the Data Protection Act but is required to gather information legally and ethically. If the patient is unable to give consent, the processing of records is legal and compatible with disclosure (France, 2002, p. 26). Conclusion All members of the health profession are obligated to preserve the confidentiality of patient information through the Data Protection Act of 1998. A paramedic that is responsible for emergency care must act fairly and following the law. Consent must always be asked in processing information, even if it is a medical emergency, to avoid violation of the law. There are cases in which disclosure of information does not violate patient confidentiality if the subject has given consent to transfer or a substantial and public interest deemed transfer as necessary.
ncyclopedia of Surgery. (2011). Patient confidentiality. Retrieved on September 30, 2011, from http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Pa-St/Patient-Confidentiality.html.
France, E. (2002). Use and Disclosure of Health Data: Guidance on the Application of the Data Protection Act 1998. Retrieved on September 30, 2011, from http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/data_protection/practical_application/health_data_-_use_and_disclosure001, pp. 1-33.
Iversen et al. (2006). Analysis and comment: Consent, confidentiality, and the Data Protection Act. British Medical Journal, 332, pp. 165-169.
Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee. (2006). Patient Confidentiality. Retrieved on September 30, 2011 from http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/med/research/hsri/emergencycare/guidelines/patient_confidentiality_2006.pdf. pp. 1-7.
Royal College of Nursing. (2011). Informed consent in health and social care research: RCN guidance for nurses, 2nd ed. Retrieved on September 30, 2011 from http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/78607/002267.pdf. pp. 1-17.
SearchStorage.co.UK. (2011). U.K. Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998). Retrieved on September 30, 2011 from http://searchstorage.techtarget.co.uk/definition/Data-Protection-Act-1998.
South Eastern Education and Library Board. (n.d.). Staff Guide to the Data Protection Act 1998. Retrieved on September 30, 2011 from http://www.seelb.org.uk/FOI/PDFs/Data_Protection_Staff_Handbook_SEELB.pdf., pp. 1-27.
The National Archieves. (2011). Data Protection Act 1998: Cases Where the Eight Principle Does Not Apply. Retrieved on September 30, 2011 from http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/schedule/4.
UK Department of Health. (2011). Data Protection Act 1998. Retrieved on September 30, 2011 from http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Managingyourorganisation/Informationpolicy/Recordsmanagement/DH_4000489.
Whitmore, D. and Furber, R. (2006). The Need for a Professional Body for UK Paramedics. Journal of Emergency Primary Health Care 4 (1), pp. 1-4.