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Canadian Nurses Association

E. Maintaining Privacy and Confidentiality

Nurses recognize the importance of privacy and confidentiality and safeguard

personal, family and community information obtained in the context of a professional


Ethical responsibilities:

1. Nurses respect the interests of persons receiving care in the lawful collection,

use, access and disclosure of personal information.

2. When nurses are conversing with persons receiving care, they take reasonable

measures to prevent confidential information in the conversation from being


3. Nurses collect, use and disclose health information on a need-to-know basis

with the highest degree of anonymity possible in the circumstances and in

accordance with privacy laws.

4. When nurses are required to disclose information for a particular purpose, they

disclose only the amount of information necessary for that purpose and inform

only those necessary. They attempt to do so in ways that minimize any potential

harm to the persons receiving care or colleagues.

5. When nurses engage in any form of communication, including verbal or electronic,

involving a discussion of clinical cases, they ensure that their discussion of

persons receiving care is respectful and does not identify those persons unless

necessary and appropriate (CNA, 2012).

6. Nurses advocate for persons receiving care to have access to their own health-

care records through a timely and affordable process when such access is


7. Nurses respect policies that protect and preserve the privacy of persons

receiving care, including security safeguards in information technology.

8. Nurses do not abuse their access to information by accessing health-care

records, including those of a family member or any other person, for purposes

inconsistent with their professional obligations. When using photo, video or

other technology for assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and

evaluation of persons receiving care, nurses obtain their consent and do not

intrude into their privacy. They handle photos or videos with care to maintain

the confidentiality of the persons involved, including colleagues and students.