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Breach of confidentiality

Our case studies are based on real life fitness to practise concerns we have received

Type of concern: Breach of confidentiality

Profession: Occupational Therapist


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.


Learning material
Case study
Cofrestredig, Employers
Occupational therapists
Tudalen wedi'i diweddaru ymlaen: 18/12/2023