PERSONAL BAGGAGE
A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Is patient confidentiality a big issue in health care?

Answer

Patient confidentiality has always been an issue in health care, but now the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH) demands so much confidentiality that it is an obstacle to communication. Today families and friends are often blocked from obtaining information.

In 1991, the year in which PERSONAL BAGGAGE begins and in which Penny works at Jacksonville Medical Center, the hospital operator is allowed to tell callers whether or not a person is in the hospital. Today, hospitals are not allowed to identify their patients unless the person inquiring has the patient’s code number.

Breaking confidentiality has always been grounds for dismissal, which is why the nurse in PERSONAL BAGGAGE was unwilling to give Penny details of how Dr Wiseman died in the stairwell. (p. 56)

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Chapter 6: Chapter Six
68.
"... The paper didn’t say how she died, so...” “Things happen here that never show up in the papers; our staff is good at confidentiality.... I think most people know that Dr. Wiseman had an accident on the stairs, but that’s all.” Penny’s expression did not betray the depth of her ..."

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Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
"...Penny had never told Johnny about Mrs. Spoonhouse: how Dr. Scales admitted her to Dixiana’s CCU when she should have been sent straight to Jacksonville. As they walked, she struggled within herself: confidentiality never used to be such a big issue, and Johnny wouldn’t tell anybody. Penny decided to tell him. ..."

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Is patient confidentiality a big issue in health care?

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"A nurse juggles jobs at two Mississippi hospitals, aging parents and a stressed marriage in McMillion's novel .... a comprehensive..."

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