Social media, patient privacy and COVID-19

mass protection of citizens. Track and trace systems have also been linked to phones allowing the spread of the virus to be monitored and informing those who may have come into contact with something to stay at home. This proving to a slowed the spread of the virus, certainly in the UK. However, in order to obtain this information personal details must be shared to a database leading to potential issues surrounding ethics and privacy. Where is the line drawn between how much information is too much?

The critical issue that having and spreading this information causes is that it leads to blaming and shaming. It is in our nature to blame others for problems so that we ourselves can keep our moral compasses on track. Along with this and spoken about in the article is the potential for misidentification of the “perpetrator” leading to unnecessary hate being put onto those who did nothing wrong. Not only this, but social media acts as a shield to hide behind where you can make comments with no repercussions. Relating this to COVID-19 and the track and trace system it provides a perfect opportunity to know the areas in which someone has had COVID-19 allowing the door to be opened and hateful comments to come in. From an ethical perspective it is a fine line between protecting patient privacy whilst at the same time protecting those around us. How much information is worth giving up? The violation of patient privacy in the short term could protect many but in the longer term could it cause more harm? It is a very difficult line to balance on.

Personally, I believe that this mass spreading of information is useful to some degree if certain parts of information are protected such as name, job and any other identification details. When it comes to COVID-19 it is only important if they are positive or not. Nothing else. I do think that these systems are crucial in slowing the rates of COVID-19 but even so, breaking patient privacy is not worth the cause. Up until now we have dealt with other issues and kept patient information private so why does it now change? As with social media, it is a fine line of what is helpful and what is not. It is difficult to limit what goes on. It is harder to control. Is it worth risking long term issues to protect people in the short term? Is social media helpful as a means of protection? Should patient privacy ever be broken?

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