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Spinoff: Confidentiality?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by aretoo, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. aretoo

    5+ Year Member

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    The other post got me thinking...

    Begin a horse person who volunteers in an equine clinic, I've always considered confidentiality to be hugely important (always have to sign confidentiality waivers, even just to volunteer). Reason being (for non-horsey people), if you let something slip about trainer Y's horse X being at the clinic (it doesn't even really matter why), with the size of the horse world, it's bound to get around to the person who tries horse X next month. Which can cause prospective buyers to pause...resulting in a potential loss of sale. With the huge money at stake for racehorses and top sporthorses, that can be devastating.

    But working in a small animal clinic, it's completely different. Sure, some people don't like others to know about their pets' issues, and I completely respect that. But if there is no money at stake, do you believe that confidentiality is of the same importance? I've never signed a confidentiality waiver at a SA clinic.

    I don't mean to insinuate that equine work is of more value, or anything like that...this is just food for thought - I wanted to see what others think.
     
    #1 aretoo, Dec 6, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
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  3. Fairyblastt

    Fairyblastt UC Davis class of 2013
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    I don't think money needs to be the sole reason to respect the privacy of your clients. For me, I look at it from the point of view that there is no reason I need to ID a client and what medical issues they've been having/not having etc with their pets. If I want to tell a funny story (and we do get lots of them working with both animals and people!), I can change details, remove names, etc enough to prevent ID. It's simple enough to do.

    I basically think that it is entirely possible that someone could be very unhappy that I've shared some part of what is their medical record, so why risk it with anyone? I also think it would make me look very unprofessional to be caught saying that so-and-so's dog came in with diarrhea again and poor so-and-so had it all up and down the front of her shirt! (*cough* true story, the lady went home in a scrub top and brought it back the next day.:))

    And your example of the racehorse example holds true in other areas of vet med as well. If breeder A comes in with some overheated chicks because the incubator malfunctioned, they probably don't want people to know and think that they don't know what they're doing, etc.

    So, at least for me, it is standard to take names and IDing info out of any story I might feel compelled to share.
     
  4. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    There were pretty strict confidentiality rules in play when I worked at an animal control facility. They dealt with a lot of court cases (bites, cruelty/neglect, violations to the breed ban in that county, etc) so we had to keep a lot of details to ourselves. Now I work with lab animals at a few different sites, and we have confidentiality agreements in the lab, too.

    I'm just used to not giving out specific details, I think, which is why I generally leave them out anyways. I wouldn't mind, personally, if people knew that my dog was being treated for such and such thing, but I know that some clients really do mind. I think it's disrespectful to violate those clients' preferences without a good reason. And since it's impossible to tell how seriously a given client takes their personal information, it's much easier to just not share it.
     
  5. Malhi

    Malhi UW-Madison SVM 2013
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    I have a question kind of related to the topic.

    We are finishing up some research for a paper that is going to be published soon. Since it is not yet published, I don't think I am at liberty to discuss the details. What do you guys think? Is there a way to mention it but not go into details or should I just talk about my personal research projects and not what the lab was working on?
     
  6. sumstorm

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    We have confidentially guidelines at our clinic. No names or identifying characteristics. While it might not cost as much as horses, some dogs, especially working dogs, are worth thousands of dollars, and breeding programs could be ruined by misinformation. For example, one breeder of amazing working dogs has a rescue (same breed) that is not part of the program, and who has severe allergies. Mentioning the allergies to another person could start rumors about her breeding program. Why even risk it?

    Also, vet treatments cost money. Maybe I don't want it getting back to my employer, who would do anything to prolong thier dog's life, that I opted not to perform chemo on my old dog. While it SHOULDN't affect my career, anything that alters my boss's perception of me could alter how they recommend me or the assignments I am given.
     
  7. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    There is always money at stake, you just don't realize it.

    The dog that breeder Y breeds with who got a poor rating on their OFA hips.

    Breeder X who just found the newly introduced queen into their cattery has herpes.

    Or any animal from any breeder/shelter/pet store who really has any issue is going to reflect badly on the organization they got it from.
     
    #6 david594, Dec 6, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  8. tealamutt

    tealamutt WSU class of 2012
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    The bottom line is that you have to be careful no matter what the reason, because lapses in confidentiality can come back to bite you for a myriad of reasons and in ways you never imagined possible. There's never a 'more important' time or kind of confidentiality, it's all important. So just think of it as an insurance policy against the unimagined and make sure you stick to it all the time!
     
  9. chris03333

    chris03333 Veterinarian
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    Ask your lab group if it is okay with them...not us...:D
     
  10. Truth74

    Truth74 DVM
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    How about being sued?

    Where I work, there are confidentiality and non-disclosure policies for the clients, the patients, and certain companies. There are forms and information that I will be leaving at work, when my time there is done.

    For me, it's not legal for me to say, "Guess who called into the call center?" I accept it as part of the job.

    However, I know that later on, I may be urged/ obligated as a veterinarian to report certain things (rabies licensing, abuse, neglect), but until that time, my lips are sealed.
     
  11. cozycleo

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    Maybe it's just because I've been around attorneys for the past 6 years, but to me when dealing with any kind of professional-client relationship, you're always better off erring on the side of maintaining confidentiality, no matter how trivial or minor you think the patient's/client's issue is.
     
  12. Groominator

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    yeah I can understand the importance of confidentiality. Here's my case:

    My dogs are show dogs that came from a well-established breeder who knows many other breeders and people in the breed. They are my pets but they relfect her bloodlines and her own dogs. And one time, one of my dogs was misdiagnosed with an adrenal disease that would have completely changed his life if he had it and had to be treated for it. Thankfully we were able to test for it and he does not have the issue. But what if a tech left the shift before the results were complete and was under the impression that he did have the disease and happened to tell someone... who is in show dogs. Or in the same breed. Or whatever. Or even leaking the fact that the dog appeared to have symptoms and had the test done to someone in the breed that knows my breeder or the bloodline could have started awful rumors. Besides, on the grapevine information always gets distorted when it goes from person to person.

    on the other hand i think its alright to an extent to tell your SO some details as long as the SO knows to be professional about it and not to drop information. Discretion and judgment is very important. Even then i probably wouldn't discuss details past the animals call name. Fluffy who? There are a lot of Fluffies out there.
     
  13. critterologist

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    With respect to sharing information about research that is on its way to being published or even not that far yet, you should ALWAYS check with your PI about what you can talk about before you say anthing to anybody.

    Having said that though, it is generally considered very acceptable to discuss research that is in progress in most fields. In all of the labs I've worked in, we have presented posters at conferences and given talks about our research long before anything has been published. You want to be careful not to give anything away, but generally speaking, those in your field already have some idea of what you are working on before you get to the publishing point.

    I now work at a company rather then a university, so the rules are a bit more stringent. Still, I know what I can and cannot discuss, and the fundamentals of the research are generally on the acceptable list. We have a paper that will soon be published, and I have every intention of bringing the final draft with me to any interviews I might get in case the adcoms are interested.

    Lastly, I suspect that if you haven't heard anything from your PI about keeping things secret, your PI isn't worried about it. Definately ask before you talk about anything, but in my experience if there are lab secrets, the PI has taken it upon him or herself to make sure that all the lab members know what is on the acceptable to discuss list.

    Sorry for the novel, interesting discussion:D.
     

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