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Confidentiality and occupational health – an employee’s view
People all over the world are increasingly concerned about the safety of their personal data. Online fraudsters always seem to be one step ahead of the authorities, and huge data leaks seem to be becoming commonplace. Living in an internet based world, consumers are learning to be vigilant at all times about their most private details, including banking information, travel history, personal identification cards, relationship history and anything else that is important to them. But what about medical information?
Your medical history is one of the most important pieces of information that you can divulge. While a few past sniffles and a childhood case of chicken pox may not seem like a big deal, you may be worried that certain medical conditions can change the entire way that the world perceives you. A past diagnosis of a contagious disease, a lifelong struggle with mental illness or a family history of a debilitating condition can all alter your life, and if made widely known could make it difficult for you to gain employment or be awarded a promotion.
Anyone suffering from a stigmatising condition will know the fear of their employer or other important people finding out about their private information. Therefore, you may be increasingly reluctant to share information about your personal health history with anyone other than your physician, and you may be scared off by online data collection tools such as surveys and appointment booking systems.
When confronted with Occupational Health in your workplace you may be initially wary and uncertain about how much they can – or should – share. You might have questions such as:
- Will this information get back to my boss?
- Will my colleagues find out about my personal medical information?
- Will this affect my chances at a promotion?
- Will I be made to feel embarrassed or stigmatised?
- How will my data be stored? Will it be safe?
These concerns are all completely normal, and can easily be moderated. It is important that you know that Occupational Health are bound by the same rigid oaths of confidentiality that other doctors and nurses abide by, and so your most personal information is safe. Any results from an encounter with occupational health is medically confidential even a simple advisory opinion. Therefore, there is no chance that your medical data will be used against you.
Occupational Health consultants are put into place in order to help you, not to harm you – and while they may be working for your employer, their strict adherence to moral codes and medical oaths will prevent your information from being shared. In addition, any information collected about you is stored in the most up to date, technologically advanced ways possible. You can relax and feel free to share any medical concerns that you have with an Occupational Health consultant, and take comfort in the knowledge that, with your suggestions and information, they are part of a process that will see your workplace become happier and healthier.