Ethical Dilemmas in Healthcare: Balancing Data Protection and Confidentiality in the Case of Natalie's Blood Transfusion

Introduction

Data protection has been a significant aspect in the 21st century primarily due to the risks related to personal data exposure. Different professions require the field participants to ensure that the client data is safe. Nevertheless, in the field of healthcare, the issue of data protection promotes different concerns especially due to contradicting perspectives relating to the issue of data protection. For example, while some regulations require healthcare professionals to protect the confidentiality of information shared by clients in confidence, some cases pose jeopardizing moments. Medical cases occur where the information shared could help resolve a puzzle or where the best interest of the party appears ignored. Therefore, these pages will evaluate a case scenario of Natalie (as their Social Worker) who has been involved in an accident and requires a blood transfusion. However, seeking a match from the family, different secrets likely to harm the unity of the family are revealed by both parents with each requires my confidentiality.

Case Analysis

Typically, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) relates to personal data protection which includes any information such as a person’s name (Lea, & de Meyer, 2018). In Natalie’s case, the law of promoting data protection especially that revealed by her parents in relation to extramarital relations complicates the treatment process. While it could be the protocol for Simon her brother, Kim the mother, and Timothy his father to be tested for transfusion, Timothy is out of the bracket as Kim has disclosed, he is not Natalie’s biological father. Again, Timothy wishes that both him and Stefan who is a son to Pauline be tested as possible donors the issue presents a question of consent. Although Timothy is ready to test, Stefan is yet to consent on the same individually.

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Again, the issue of confidentiality presents in Natalie’s case. Commonly, human rights in nations applying common law argue it is the right of patients to promote the confidentiality of their medical information unless in cases law compelling (Mendelson, & Wolf, 2017). Although Natalie never revealed her struggle with alcoholism before the accident, she disclosed in confidentiality. Given the cruciality of information from her mother about Timothy having no blood relations with Natalie, maintaining confidentiality is crucial but then again eliminates the Timothy as a crucial figure in her daughter’s transfusion. Given that Simon, Stefan, and Kim are the key contributors in Natali’s treatment, focusing on their seeking consent in testing as a possible match would be the primary focus.

Regardless of the different secrets relating to Natalie’s family and the need to enhance confidentiality for the family’s stability, the question of best interests presents. Evidently, the confidentiality of both Timothy and his wife Kim is likely to harm the family union in case of disclosure. Nevertheless, the best interest of the children in this case Stefan, Natalie, and Simon must be considered in decision making (Birchley, 2016). Safeguarding the secrets of both parents could be important but then appears to be implicating the interests of Simon and Natalie in relation to the private family law and private children law. The two require knowing the truth about whether Timothy is their biological father or not, but this coupled with the case of Timothy having an extramarital relationship with Pauline with who they bore Stefan could lead to either separation or even divorce.

As a result, family courts could be involved to handle the private family law which would be seeking to protect Simon and Natalie against harm. For example, in case Timothy realizes that Natalie is not his biological daughter and in a worst-case Simon not being his biological son, he could opt to divorce Kim and decline more financial support to the children arguing lack of blood relations. The discontinuation of support could affect the education of Kim’s children and could pose more harm to their emotional and psychological wellness as well. The private family law could be employed to help both Kim and Timothy settle the dispute without affecting the wellness of the children. The court disputing the separation or divorce for Natalie’s parents could seek to ensure that both Simon and Natalie are not part of the dispute in accordance with the 1989 Children Act (Dinner, 2016). Typically, harming the life of Natalie and Simon through the disclosure of the family secrets could be increasingly easy. The rate of harm could be exacerbated by a situation where the outcome reveals that Timothy is not Simon’s father as well. As teens who appear to be dealing with too much to the extent of pushing Natalie to self-harm, the two could be affected by the idea of losing Simon their known father and as well impact their relationship with Kim. As such, the decision for disclosing the information must focus on their best interests which appears to be best protected by ensuring the confidentiality of both parents.

Nevertheless, even though ensuring Timothy’s and Kim’s confidentiality would be the best option for Natalie and Simon, keeping the information of Natalie being self-harming, drinking, and driving as an underage does not safeguard her wellness. Both Kim and Timothy require to know that Natalie is struggling with some poor decisions as well as unknown triggers that increase her susceptibility to peer pressure. Disclosing her drinking, Natalie noted that she had recently acquired friends who she wished to impress and was therefore pressured to indulge in activities that were too complex for her age. She was missing school, drinking, self-harming, and had been forced to drive to impress them. Even though the disclosure was a sign of confidentiality more so due to the already established positive therapeutic relationship, failure to disclose the same could complicate her behaviours after recovery. Again, while evaluating the case on the grounds of Natalie’s best interests would be disclosing the issues to her parents, agreeing to support her as she makes the disclosure is the best option.

The issue of GDPR presents again regarding Stefan’s consent as a potential donor for Natalie. Basically, direct blood transfusion has opted when a patient needs the blood transfusion critically and their blood type is rare. In the case of Natalie, viable donors could only be Simon and Kim. Nevertheless, in a bid to maintain the secrets of the family, opting to test both Timothy and Stefan who is Natalie’s half-brother could be preferred. Testing Stefan for a match would require consent, although Timothy has already agreed that Stefan is tested secretly, he (Stefan) is expected to show explicit consent as well. Timothy has taken his parental responsibility and in consenting about Stefan getting tested, but then Stefan should be able to offer explicit consent without having his decisions influenced by the decisions of his parents. Explicit confidence in GDPR requires the involved party to offer consent freely (Barrell, 2019).

Letting Stefan test as a match for Natalie’s transfusion as a family member could easily contribute to the disclosure of Timothy’s secrete family. Nevertheless, the damages that the information could contribute are likely to cause more harm to either Natalie or Stefan. Currently, it appears that Timothy has managed to keep the two families intact and children appear comfortable except for that Natalie appears to be fighting unknown battles. Her decision to share her recent drinking behaviour implies that she’s ready to change. In a case where Timothy learns that Natalie is not her biological daughter, he might opt out in providing for her thus creating the need for evaluating the Welfare Checklist. Basically, some of the crucial factors that must be evaluated include her feelings towards the issue, the outcome of the disclosure could exacerbate Natalie’s drinking problem (Richardson, Boylan, & Brammer, 2017). Other consideration issues include the likely possibility of Kim revealing Natalie’s biological father and how the news and a possible relationship would affect her. Again, it is important to consider the current harm that She suffered which would exacerbate the impact of the outcome.

As a social worker, evaluating the welfare checklist is crucial to enhancing decision making in social work statutory duties in particular services and safeguarding. Although working with the family for a prolonged time helps in understanding the negative impacts that could result from the information, truth is critical to promoting continuous stability. Even though the truth would be reserved now, there could be complications that push for revealing. For example, assuming that Timothy finds himself in a similar case, the only sure possible match would be Stefan. Nevertheless, since the welfare of children is more crucial than that of the parents, focusing on the wellness of Natalie is the primary goal thus opting to keep the information confidential.

Typically, the whole case of Natalie presents a question of trust in different angles. Primarily, Natalie appears to have confided with Simon about her self-harming case as well as her struggle with alcohol. Simon managed to keep the whole issue a secret until when it gets to exacerbated levels and Natalie is involved in a serious accident. Both Kim and Timothy have huge secrets that appear older than their marriage. Although the two have been married for over a decade, the secrets in their marriage imply limited trust. However, even with the mistrust, Kim has confided with the doctor to ensure that the process of Natalie’s transfusion is handled with agility thus limiting the need for unnecessary tests on Timothy. On the other hand, Timothy confided the possibility of an extra donor (Stefan) to increase the chances of finding enough blood.

Although Natalie’s wellness which appears to have been overtaken by the best interests of the case could require the covering of the secrets, the UNCRC Children’s Rights requires children to be raised and have relations with their parents (Quennerstedt, Robinson, and I’Anson, 2018). This implies that it is the right of a child to know their real parents and Kim has denied Natalie and probably Simon the right to know their biological fathers. Again, considering the best interests of both Natalie and Simon more so in giving them a chance to know their real biological parents is important. As a result, being the involved family social worker and having realized that Simon has fled home, opting to investigate the underlying family issue is important.

Basically, both Natalie and Simon are aware of Timothy’s secret affair with Pauline as well as about the existence of Stefan. Although they are still unaware that Stefan is Timothy’s son, the affair could be contributing to the strange behaviours of both Natalie and Simon. Running away from home in a time when the doctors are about to decide on Natalie’s transfusion and Natalie’s disruptive and drinking behaviours shows that there is more than what has been revealed. Therefore, the team handling the case will insist on testing the primary family which excludes Stefan and upon a match the team will insist on having the mother and Simon as the only donors. Although Timothy would raise questions on why he was not picked, common problems such as test delays could be sighted. Alternatively, the team could opt to test the four and collect samples where that of both Stefan and Timothy will be included in a family blood bank.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, data protection in healthcare is a crucial factor more so as it relates to ethical guidelines. Care providers are expected to promote the confidentiality of patient information unless in situations compelled by law. Although some of the information could pose potential harm to family stability, the presence of a social worker evaluates more regulations especially if children are involved. For example, in the case of Natalie, the mother appears to have secrets that violate the rights of both Natalie and Simon concerning their biological parents. Again, while evaluating the welfare checklist, the time is not right for disclosure. Therefore, the possible blood donors will take a test and donate as the social worker seeks to work with both Simon and Natalie to help them manage the underlying pressures and prepare them for the disclosure.

References

Barrell, L. 2019. Dual Aspects of Informed vs. Explicit Consent in R&D.

Birchley, G. 2016. Harm is all you need? Best interests and disputes about parental decision-making. Journal of Medical Ethics, 42(2), pp.111-115.

Dinner, D. 2016. The Divorce Bargain: The Fathers' Rights Movement and Family Inequalities. Va. L. Rev., 102, pp.79.

Lea, N. C., & de Meyer, F. 2018. How Will the General Data Protection Regulation Affect Healthcare? Acta Medica Portuguesa, 31(7-8), pp.363-365.

Mendelson, D., & Wolf, G. 2017. Health privacy and confidentiality. Health Privacy and Confidentiality.

Quennerstedt, A., Robinson, C. and I’Anson, J., 2018. The UNCRC: The voice of global consensus on children’s rights? Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 36(1), pp.38-54.

Richardson, V., Boylan, J., & Brammer, A. 2017. Contact, welfare and children in care: revisiting the significance of birth family relationships after finding significant harm. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 39(1), pp.67-82.


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