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Privacy and Confidentiality

ANA Position Statement
Effective Date:
February 2024

Status: Revised Position Statement
Written By: ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights
Adopted By: ANA Board of Directors

The purpose of this position statement is to clarify nurses’ obligation to protect patients’ right to privacy and nurses’ duty of confidentiality. Recommendations to avoid breaches and violations are provided. Ongoing advances in technology, including electronic health records, medical and research databases, telehealth, social media, and other digital/web-based technologies have increased the risk of intentional and unintentional breaches of privacy and exposure of confidential information. Additionally, privacy rights can be affected by variability in state-based legislation. Concerns associated with technology-related breaches of confidential information are valid, yet the frequency of breaches that occur among clinicians during routine interactions in health care settings is of deeper concern.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) believes that protection of the right to privacy and the nurse’s duty to maintain confidentiality are foundational to the ethical obligation to respect individuals’ dignity and autonomy. This is a central means to foster and maintain the trusting relationship between health care providers and patients (ANA, 2015). ANA supports legislation, policies, and standards that protect rights to privacy as well as assure confidentiality of individually identifiable health information.


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