Hospital Confidential


Imagine a stranger coming up to you, taking your cell phone off the table, and beginning to cruise through all of your text messages, emails, banking information and images. Imagine you being unable to move, speak or do anything to prevent this.

This complete stranger giggles, makes the “ohhhhhh” shape with his mouth, nods to himself and eventually…after many long minutes of snooping, puts your phone back on the table and looks at you with new and knowing eyes.

How would you feel?

Would you trust that stranger to keep what he’d just seen to himself? Who is he, anyway, and what business does he have looking into your stuff in the first place?


I used to do a similar exercise with my health care students, in which I would pre-arrange to snoop in one student’s purse in the classroom the next day. I asked her to leave in anything she wanted to, and remove anything she really didn’t want people to see, but did explain to her that the more sensitive the items, the more effective the exercise would be.

I would actually shake inside while doing the exercise.


Why? Why would I shake when this was all a set-up?


Well, partly because it just felt wrong to be pawing through someone’s private space in front of the entire class….pulling out tampons and birth control pills, makeup and shopping lists…counting how much cash they had, commenting on what points cards they carried around for what stores, finding that little zippered case with condoms in it…just in case…and making a big deal about that.

I would shake inside because it felt wrong to be doing this both to the person whose purse it was and to be sharing it with the others, who, thinking I was being just awful and invading the space of one of their classmates..would be shocked, upset and some of them, downright angry.


Rightly so.


It was an awesome exercise.


Once I explained that it was a set-up, once people could relax and realize that I wasn’t going to dig through their purses next, the conversation began.


Patient confidentiality.


A nursing unit clerk, (and all health care professionals, for that matter), have access to the medical records…the hospital charts…of the patients. Doctors and nurses have access only to the records of those on the unit that they are looking after that day. Unit Clerks, however, have access to all of the charts on their unit on the days they are working. They have to.

Nursing Unit Clerks have to maintain the records, ensure there are enough forms for others to write on, process orders written by physicians, look up results, file documents into the charts and keep things in order. It’s their job to be looking after these records on the hospital unit.

(for a longer description of what exactly a Nursing Unit Clerk is, please see this post.)


So what’s the big deal?


Well, a person’s medical record is akin to their purse/wallet/phone. It’s an account of all that has transpired medically and often socially for the patient during both that hospital stay and in the past. There are reports from doctors, nurses and other professionals like social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, mental health workers and more. Much of this is sensitive material.

If you have herpes, it’s in there. If you have ever been admitted to a psychiatric unit, for any reason, it’s in there. If you have peed your pants or messed your bed, or overdosed, or have a broken family relationship or have no friends at all…it’s in there. If you are forgetful, if you spoke unkindly to a staff member, if you have a rash on your bits or are overweight, or have the runs…it’s there.

Your hospital chart is about as personal as it gets, and because of that, patient confidentiality is absolutely critical.


Most people don’t think about it.


If you want to learn something about a patient…if you want a more holistic view of what that person is about, you read the chart. Often, it will help you to understand what is happening medically with the person. Sometimes it will explain behaviour, visiting patterns, social issues. There are a lot of reasons why this information is kept.


Confidentiality is critical.


Hospital staff are told during training and upon orientation to their jobs that patient confidentiality is important. It’s even a fire-able offense in most organizations. There are often signs above elevator doors and in hospital cafeterias asking staff to maintain confidentiality.

It’s one thing to talk to another staff member about a patient if a problem needs to be solved or some support is being sought out on how to handle something. It’s another thing to be sharing gossip about the poor woman in Room 214 whose husband left her for a 20 year old.

Access to the inner workings of a person’s life is a privilege, and in my 23 years as a Nursing Unit Clerk, (and now in a different way, in my role as clergy), I recognize that this access is sacred ground…to be cared for and guarded, respected and protected by those granted such privilege.

We don’t have a lot of privacy left in this world of technology and hacking and such, but when trust is placed in the hands of strangers, (professionals yes, but strangers nonetheless)…trust of our medical information, of our physical bodies, and in some cases, of our very lives…it would be comforting to think it was being honoured.





www.communicationdiva.comReiki and More

In this podcast episode, I ask Caterina to explain what a Reiki session is like, and how it can help people to alleviate stress, especially in the workplace. People are more and more stressed with the demands placed upon them through longer working hours, more activities and expectations, long commutes and challenging relationships.Caterina’s focus is to help calm people down and find relaxation in the midst of the hectic day.
I met Cat in a coaching training course a couple of summers ago, and have been in touch ever since. Aside from being a tremendous people-person, Caterina is also a fantastic cook, and is passionate about helping others. This passion comes through in all that she does, and I am delighted to share her with you today.
Caterina Barregar of Imagine Life Coaching is an intuitive Reiki Master, Relationship Coach and Connector.
Caterina works with men and women who are successful and who have issues with self worth.

Caterina says:

There are times when our bodies try to communicate with us and we just don’t hear it, or we choose to ignore it.  Physical pain is what happens when emotional pain is not being addressed.” 


In Reiki and relationship coaching it’s about getting the emotional to communicate with the physical so that we can heal both and move forward.
Life can change in an instant and when we are able to communicate what we want and need out of life, magic happens.

Where to Find Caterina

Corporate Clients:


Private Clients:

Imagine Life Coaching

Thanks for listening!

I continue to appreciate you and the time you take out of your hectic life to join me here. My passion is to introduce you to fascinating people who are busy helping others in their own unique ways….to explore topics around communication…and to help you be the BEST  you  you can be.

Please share the love,





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