Indiscreet nurses tell patients’ secrets

Nurses allegedly disclosed one patient's HIV status at the Matavhela Clinic. File Photo: WHO
Nurses allegedly disclosed one patient’s HIV status at the Matavhela Clinic. File Photo: WHO

Mbavhi Ndwambi from Musunda said that although there are other clinics in the area, she chose to go to Matvhela because it was closest to her. Nurses’ indiscretions have made her rethink the choice.

“I’m starting to wonder if choosing this clinic was the wrong idea because there are no secrets here,” she told OurHealth.

The National Health Act states that all patients have a right to confidentiality. This is in line with with the right to privacy in the South African Constitution but nurses at the clinic allegedly publicly disclosed Thambo Tshiedano’s HIV status.

“I went to the clinic for HIV tests and they came back positive,” Tshiedano said. “The only person who knew about my status was the nurse who tested me, but I was surprised to hear people talking about my status.”

“There could only be one person who had revealed my status to someone,” Tshiedano added.

The incident has shaken the confidence of Tshiedano and others in the clinic’s ability to guarantee patient confidentiality.

“Whatever sickness you present with at the clinic, it will be the following day’s news,” Tshiedano said. “You will wonder how that came out because you only told or were seen by a certain nurse who you were supposed to be able to trust.”

Tshepo Munyai from Gundani said that some are considering paying more for transport to visit other clinics farther away as they call on the clinic to take action against the two nurses.

“The clinics are far and it will cost us to get there but it would be better than having our confidential problems known by everyone,” Munyai said.

When Ourhealth went to the clinic, the two accused nurses, whose names are known to OurHealth, had locked themselves in the consultation room.

The sister in charge, Caroline Xihundla, however spoke to us.

“We have received couple of complaints from some of our patients about their privacy being breached,” she said. “They even mentioned the names of the two nurses who are revealing private information.”

“We have sat down with the two accused and warned them to stop revealing patients’ secrets or action will be taken,” Xihundla added. “Since then we have not received any complaints.”

“We are really sorry to all the patients whose privacy has been violated by our staff members, and we promise to make sure that it never happens to any other patient again,” she added. – Health-e News Service. 

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