Skip navigation

Breach of confidentiality (fitness to practise case study)

Our case studies are based on real life fitness to practise concerns we have received. They illustrate the types of issues that are taken into consideration by a panel when deciding if a registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, and if so what sanction to apply.

Type of concern Breach of confidentiality
Profession Occupational Therapist
Standard

Standards of conduct performance and ethics (updated in January 2016)
Standard 1. Promote and protect the interests of service users and carers
Standard 1.1. You must treat service users and carers as individuals, respecting their privacy and
dignity
Standard 5. Respect confidentiality
Standard 5.1. You must treat information about service users as confidential
Standard 9. Be honest and trustworthy
Standard 9.1. You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you
and your profession
Standard 10. Keep records of your work
Standard 10.3. You must keep records secure by protecting them from loss, damage or
inappropriate access

Case study

An occupational therapist's employer raised concerns with us after the registrant left a notepad containing confidential information, pertaining to a number of service users, at the home address of a service user. Despite being aware that the notepad contained confidential information, the registrant did not recover the notepad in a timely manner.

The registrant represented himself at the hearing and attended via telephone. The Panel found that because the registrant did not recover the notebook on the same day he realised he had left it, he had compromised the confidentiality of the information in the notebook. It also breached the right to privacy of service users. This included highly sensitive personal contact and health information about vulnerable service users.

The Panel had no doubt that the registrant’s actions demonstrated a failing so serious as to constitute misconduct. The Panel heard the registrant’s account of changes he made in his practice. This ensures that matters of the kind found proved would not be repeated. The Panel recognised that the event was an isolated incident in a 30-year career. However, maintaining confidentiality is a fundamental requirement for occupational therapists. Therefore, the Panel felt that members of the public would be concerned to learn of this breach of confidentiality by an experienced occupational Therapist.

Accordingly, the Panel concluded that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made. The Panel decided that although they felt the risk of repetition was low, the seriousness of the misconduct needed to be marked by an appropriate sanction. This was to send a clear message to social workers and the public that such conduct is unacceptable and must not be repeated. The Panel decided to impose a twelve-month caution order.

Measures we put in place to protect the public The Conduct and Competence Committee imposed a twelve-month caution order.

 

Published:
14/01/2019
Resources
Learning material
Subcategory:
Case study
Audience
Registrants, Employers
Profession
Occupational therapists
Page updated on: 14/09/2020
Top