Case and Commentary
Jan 2005

Respecting Privacy: No Students Please

Karine Morin, LLM
Virtual Mentor. 2005;7(1):43-47. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2005.7.1.ccas8-0501.


"Mr. Jonsen is in Exam 2" Ms Wilson, the ER nurse, tells Dr. Macklin as he and Ahmed Daar, a medical student, come out of Exam 3.

Dr. Macklin grabs the chart and looks it over before stepping into the room. He notices that Mr. Jonsen is complaining of a rash, sore throat, headache, and fever.

As they enter the room, Dr. Macklin says, "Hi Mr. Jonsen, I'm Dr. Macklin and this is Mr. Daar, a medical student. What seems to be the problem today?"

Mr. Jonsen glances at Ahmed and asks, "Does he have to be in here? Because if he doesn't, I'd like him to not be."

Without looking at Ahmed, Dr. Macklin says, "This is a teaching hospital, Mr. Jonsen, and medical students are expected to observe. If they aren't allowed to observe, they can't be trained to be the doctors of tomorrow. Mr. Daar, here, has the same obligations of confidentiality that I do. Anything you say to us will remain confidential."

"I still don't think I want him in here," Mr. Jonsen explains, "and so unless he has to be, I'd appreciate it if he'd leave."

What should Dr. Macklin do? (select an option)

A. Inform Mr. Jonsen that Ahmed will be present during his care at this hospital.

B. Refer Mr. Jonsen to another ER.

C. Instruct Ahmed to leave the room.

D. Try to convince Mr. Jonsen to allow Ahmed to stay.


Virtual Mentor. 2005;7(1):43-47.



The people and events in this case are fictional. Resemblance to real events or to names of people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.