Intended for healthcare professionals


Treating mental health problems in health care workers

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 15 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1010

They deserve a confidential service

  1. Sheila C Macpherson
  1. Senior house officer in surgery Glasgow G42 8BT

    EDITOR,—Like the author of a recent personal view,1 I have experience of a very public illness. I was admitted as an emergency to a neurological institute with an acute demyelinating illness. My precise diagnosis was at first obscure, and its aetiology remains undetermined. At the time, however, speculation was rife among the medical fraternity, and many of these stories were a worry to me when I was particularly vulnerable. Colleagues, certainly not friends, were caught reading my case sheet, so that the ward staff had to keep it under lock and key.

    Now, when I speak to senior medical staff I often find that they wrongly assume that they know my diagnosis because of what was rumoured. The ward staff handled my confidentiality honourably; the real problem was with my extended medical colleagues, both junior and senior, who discussed my case at length and ignored my right to privacy. The saddest thing is that many of the doctors who have violated my confidentiality do not even realise that they are guilty.


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