Patients' Privacy of the Person and Human Rights
Nursing Ethics 2005 May; 12(3): 273-287
The UK Government published various circulars to indicate the importance of respecting the privacy and dignity of NHS patients following the implementation of the Human Rights Act, 1998. This research used an ethnographic method to determine the extent to which health professionals had in fact upheld the philosophy of these documents. Fieldwork using nonparticipant observation, and unstructured and semistructured interviews with patients and staff, took place over six months in three acute care wards in a large district NHS trust hospital. Applying the principles of phenomenology and grounded theory, the data were analysed and the contents organized into 11 key categories, leading to the formulation of a privacy model. The level of intrusion into patients' privacy by health professionals was measured against the benchmarking of the 'dignity and privacy' factors contained in the Department of Health's The essence of care document and Article 8(2) of the Human Rights Act. The findings established that patients had little privacy in the wards, and that the terms 'privacy of the person' and 'dignity' are interrelated.
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