Confidentiality is important to maintain privacy, security and trust in personal and professional relationships. It is valued and expected in any situation where sensitive information is accessed or shared.
Maintaining confidentiality is a key component of any field, as well as personal relationships. Breaking the rules of confidentiality by releasing private information to the wrong entity can cause discord, broken trust and even lawsuits between parties. In all fields, however, there are certain pieces of information that are allowed to be divulged by law, even if it is shared in confidence. It's best to read up on one's state laws regarding privacy and confidentiality in various fields in order to be properly informed. Professional requirements of confidentiality processes are taught through trainings to ensure compliance.
Confidentiality in Personal Relationships Everyone has had someone share sensitive information with them in confidence on a personal level from time to time. Maintaining that confidentiality is important, because someone is placing their trust in another person. Breaking confidentiality can lead to strained relationships. However, it can be up to the person's discretion to decide if certain topics shared in confidence should be shared with other trusted parties. These can include the person's parents or other close friends, but this must be done with care and by putting the other person first. Oftentimes, these situations involve someone being in danger of hurting others or themselves.
Confidentiality in the Medical Field Medical professionals on all levels must maintain confidentiality for patients. Patients are more likely to trust and divulge personal information to their doctors if they believe the doctors can maintain privacy. In rare cases, a medical provider can break a confidentiality agreement with the permission of the patient, or when required by law.
An example of confidentiality that can be broken by law is if a therapist deems a patient is an imminent threat to others or their own safety. In these cases, the therapist can break the patient-doctor confidentiality and share the findings with other professionals to take over treatment. These laws vary from state to state, with some requiring reporting while others do not.
Confidentiality in Business In the business world, maintaining confidentiality is necessary to comply with ethical and legal regulations. At almost every level of business, there is a need to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information. Businesses are expected to keep employee, client and company records private to protect and secure sensitive data. Upholding confidentiality can help keep information out of unethical hands.
An employee who leaks vital information to a competitor can debilitate a company. Many people unknowingly sign over their confidentiality and privacy rights when they obtain access to websites that purposefully collect, trade and sell personal information. Taking action against companies in every industry that misuse personal information will remain a concern for many in the digital age.
Confidentiality in Education All students are protected by FERPA, which stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This law ensures that student data and information is only accessible to those that students give permission to. For example, if a student does not sign off for their parents to be able to inquire about their educational status, the school cannot share any information with their parents, even to confirm their child's attendance at the institution. This extends to grades and financial aid information.