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Standards for health services in Australian prisons

Criterion 5.1.2 Physical conditions conducive to confidentiality and privacy

The physical conditions in our health service support patient privacy and confidentiality.


Indicators

A. The physical facilities of our health service support patient confidentiality and privacy without compromising the occupational health and safety of health service staff or the safety of other patients (direct observation).

B. The visual and auditory privacy of consultations is ensured without compromising the occupational health and safety of health service staff or the safety of other patients (direct observation).


Explanation

The physical arrangements of the health service need to provide privacy and confidentiality for patients and their health information.

It is important that patients have confidence their health information is being treated respectfully, with consideration to privacy and confidentiality (see Criterion 4.2.1: Confidentiality and privacy of health information; and Criterion 4.2.2: Information security).

It is acknowledged that in prisons it may be difficult to preserve ideal levels of privacy and confidentiality for patients while maintaining the safety and security of health service staff. Nevertheless, health services need to find a satisfactory balance between patient privacy and confidentiality and the necessity to maintain appropriate safety and security for staff. Health service staff should be aware of areas where maintaining appropriate levels of privacy and confidentiality for patients is not achievable.

The layout of waiting areas can be designed to support patient privacy and confidentiality, especially when patients are discussing personal issues with staff.

Consultations need to be private and not able to be overheard by others. In cases where a prison officer needs to be within sight and sound of the consultation, attempts should be made to minimise the ability of the prison officer to hear details of the private discussion between a health professional and a patient.

Auditory privacy within the health service can be enhanced by the use of background music to mask conversations between staff members and between staff and patients.

Visual privacy for patients may be ensured by the use of a curtain or screen, and gown or sheet when a patient needs to undress for a clinical examination or procedure (see Criterion 5.1.1: Health service facilities). Where a patient is required to undress for their consultation, the observation requirements of prison staff may need to revert to within sound only to maintain patient privacy and dignity.

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