Health dept violates patient confidentiality

Health dept violates patient confidentiality

The department of health and family welfare publishes details of the number of patients affected by dengue, H1N1 and Chikungunya every day.

In what seems to be a blooper and a gross violation of patient confidentiality, the department of health and family welfare has made public details of several patients affected with Dengue and Chikungunya on its official website.

The department of health and family welfare hosts details of the number of patients affected by Dengue, H1N1 and Chikungunya among other diseases on an everyday basis. 

The reports of July 2 hosted on the official website www.karnataka.gov.in has all the details about patients who have been affected. Besides the details of the patient, the department has also mentioned the name of the family member or caretaker of the patient.

Details such as phone number, residential address, place of admission, date of admission and tests conducted on the patient have also been uploaded on the site.

When DH spoke to the families of the patients, they were caught unawares.

“When I brought my son for treatment to the primary health centre, we were asked to provide our contact details and address. They did not tell us the information would be made public. We wonder what the consequences would be,” said the father of a patient from Davangere. Similar concerns were expressed by families of other patients as well. Chaudhry (name changed), a patient from Konanakunte, was asked to provide his photographs and contact details.

“They did not ask us for permission. It is not right to make our details public. Anyone can have access to this,” said a family member.

Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a public health professional, said this was a violation of patient confidentiality.

“One of the first ethics is to ensure there is no harm to the patient. In the case of communicable diseases, if people get to know information is going public, they may provide false information. This will affect public health campaigns later,” she said. Dr Karpagam said that it is also about consent from a patient.

“We have seen such violations even with details of HIV patients, by hospitals, in the past. It is a cause for concern as it may result in stigmatisation of the patient,” she said.

Dr Prabhat, deputy director, National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, said the anomaly would be rectified. The details were taken offline after DH alerted the department officials.