Fair Treatment, Confidentiality and Privacy for Ethical Legal Issue In Nursing Education

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Ethical Legal Issue In Nursing Education and Fair Treatment, Confidentiality and Privacy

Fair Treatment, Confidentiality and Privacy for Ethical Legal Issue In Nursing Education

What is Fair Treatment In Nursing Education for Ethical Legal Issue, Confidentiality and Privacy for Ethical Legal Issue In Nursing Education.

What is Fair Treatment In Nursing Education for Ethical Legal Issue

    Students have the right to expect that they will be treated fairly, consistently, and objectively. Standards of expectations for the course provide the objective guide for evaluation and must be communicated to students early and often. 

    Course requirements should be consistent for all students, including classroom and clinical assignments. Students should receive equivalent assignments, even if they are not identical, that allow them to demonstrate progress toward meeting course objectives. In addition, students must be provided with opportunity and an appropriate time to demonstrate the outcomes required in the course. 

    Students cannot be held accountable for end of course outcomes on the first day of class and the same principle applies in the clinical setting. Students must be provided with time to learn before evaluation can take place; students must clearly understand the difference in the learning and the evaluation portion of the clinical experience.

    An example of violating fair treatment might occur when a faculty allows one student extra credit in a course, but does not afford the same opportunity to all students to increase their grade. Clinically, holding students to different standards of evaluation will be considered a violation of fair treatment. 

    If the instructor consistently gives a student fewer challenging assignments and then evaluates the student as not providing a complex case, the issue of fairness is relevant again.

Confidentiality and Privacy for Ethical Legal Issue In Nursing Education

    Legislation that has been passed to protect health information and the privacy of patients should remind faculty of their obligation to protect information from and about students. The need for confidentiality in the faculty role is based in the same code of ethics that guides all nurses. '

    Students have a right to expect that information about their progress in the program, their academic and clinical performance, and their personal concerns will be kept confidential.

    In the course of the teaching role, faculty are often privileged to information about students that is of a personal and private nature. Students often confide in faculty about events that may influence their performance in the classroom or may simply seek advice from persons they feel they can trust. 

    This information, as in a nurse patient interaction, must be guarded and held in confidence. Morgan (2001) pointed out the conflicts that nursing faculty often feel when deciding whether it is in the student's best interest to divulge information of a personal nature. She suggested that there should be a “compelling professional purpose” (p. 291), such as protection of patients. 

    This conclusion is consistent with the legal precedent set in Tarasoff regents of the University of California (1976). In Tarasoff, the court held that the patient provider confidentiality rule did not apply when there was a reasonable belief of impending harm to another individual caused by a patient disclosure. 

    It is easy for caring faculty to disclose private student information based on the belief that it is in the student's best interests. But without the student's consent or the Faculty's reasonable belief that harm may come from nondisclosure, the faculty would be violating the student's right to privacy to share confidential information without student consent. 

    Faculty are often anxious to share a student's strengths and weaknesses with other faculty members who will have the student in subsequent semesters. Faculty must seriously consider the implications of such a practice as a standard approach. A student's performance or challenges in one class will not necessarily follow him or her to the next class. 

    Informing other faculty members about an individual student's strengths or weaknesses may provide prejudicial information and could be interpreted as unjust and violate the student's right to privacy. However, alerting faculty to information that may affect patient or student safety may warrant discussion. In addition to confidentiality, privacy, especially of student records, is essential. 

    Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), often referred to as the Buckley Amendment, provides the basis for protection of student records. This law was enacted to ensure that students older than age 18 have access to their educational records and to ensure that they have some input about who can receive information in that record without their consent. 

    The amendment also mandates that a procedure be in place that allows students to contest information in the record that is inaccurate or that they do not agree with. In actual practice, one of the most frequent applications of this law occurs when parents seek information about student progress or grades without student permission. 

    Parents are often dismayed to find that they have no “right” to information about student progress, unless the student provides permission. It is imperative that faculty understand the components of this legislation and follow it implicitly. 

    For example, faculty cannot post grades in any form in public, leave graded materials for students to retrieve in a public place, or circulate a printed class list with student IDs or social security information as an attendance list. 

    All of these constitute violations of FERPA and make faculty and their institutions subject to prosecution. Schools of nursing must follow the guidelines of the institution regarding FERPA, but they must also give particular attention to guarding student health records. 

    These health records are usually kept in a separate file and should follow Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 (HIPAA) guidelines. Student records and evaluation notes maintained by faculty during the process of course evaluation must also be guarded to protect privacy.

    Student privacy must be strictly guarded. Whether based in common law privacy standards, FERPA, or HIPAA, students have a legal right to have their information protected within the educational system.

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