Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The need for confidentiality

I see that I have been described as "the psychiatrist who blogs about her patients." Again, I point out that every post has been altered and modified to protect confidentiality and disguise cases, such that it is not possible to determine who I am blogging about. (See disclaimer in sidebar.) Names, ages, genders, diagnoses, meds, dates seen in the clinic - all of this has been altered, or rendered so vaguely that no one's identity can be discovered.

The only unaltered info is contained in the e-mails that I receive from patients, for which I am so grateful. Even then, I edit these, and I don't publish names or e-mail addresses. I try to double-check to see if they really intended their e-mails to be posted, if they don't tell me up front that their e-mail is bloggable.

Of course, this means extra work for the physician blogger. It's easier to say, "Many patients say (this), or "Many patients do (that)." This may be the only way to post in those cases where altering every detail will make the post unintelligible. However, this sort of generalization can drain the life out of a post. I expect that I will be doing more of that type of blogging, from necessity. Patients have a right to expect confidentiality, and that's obviously more important than my blogging.
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