Table 1

Nature and frequency of patient-identifiable information disclosure during study.

Type of interaction taking place when patient-identifiable information was disclosed
Reception and medical staff initiated (face-to-face)Reception staff initiated (telephone)Patient initiated
Theme type of information disclosedFrequency
Name only7318
Name and address311
Name and condition001
Name, address and condition001
Name and phone number010
Phone number100
Name and to see nurse003
Advice offered020
Asked for/gave results206
Reasons for the appointment, name, address/phone number, date of birth657
Examples from the original observational field where patient-identifiable information was revealed during person-to-person interactionThe patient informed the receptionist that they were there to see the nurse at 10.30 am; the receptionist asked the patient for their name and the patient then responded with ‘haven't you got it down?’ The receptionist then said that they had to ask. (P2)The receptionist asked for the name telephone number of the patient and repeated them both. (P4)A patient enquired about a set of test results and told the receptionist the condition they were enquiring about. They mentioned both their surname and address. [The researcher] was able to hear the concerns of the patient and there was one other patient present in the waiting room who would have been able to hear what was being said. The receptionist informed the patient that they had not received the results of the test but would let them know when they had. In this case the patient initiated the conversation and seemed to be comfortable talking to the receptionist about their condition. (P1)
The patient informed the receptionist that they had an appointment to see their GP and the receptionist seemed to know the patient. This became apparent when they sounded surprised and asked if they were alright. The patient then informed the receptionist the reason for their visit. (P5)The receptionist asked the patient what was wrong and said that they would put them down for a visit and cancel their appointment. (P8)
The practice nurse announced both the forename and surname when calling for a patient on four occasions. (P3)The patient asked the receptionist for a repeat prescription and informed the receptionist of both forename and surname. (P6)
  • Disclosure of patient name only was not considered a breach of confidentiality; data are included to indicate relative incidence.