It is important that we reflect and write about the work we do with patients. As we reflect, we create a narrative that sometimes becomes a written piece. We cannot really tell our stories without including the patients because it is actually our perception of the patients and their stories. And yet, we also have a covenant of confidentiality with our patients. Beyond what HIPAA says, we live within ethical considerations that must protect our patients.
What then can we do when we write and then want to share that writing with a friend, in a blog, or for a journal submission?
When writing about patients, we must respect these ethical considerations. In an evolving set of guidelines, the best practice remains to show what we write to the person about whom we wrote. That is what I encourage writers to do whenever possible. It can be scary and it is always fruitful. You might learn more about the story, about the person, about yourself, and the bias inherent in your viewpoint. That information might lead you to add to or edit your reflection. Then what you have is a co-creation, and your patients will feel valued and respected. Alternatively, these conversations may also clarify reasons to not publish the piece.