Re: Specimen containers and "confidentiality"

From:"J. A. Kiernan" <>

On Tue, 16 Jan 2001, Wrona, Erin wrote:

> How do you all dispose of specimen containers that have patient
> identification on them?  Not the specimen, just the container.
> ... With the high level of concern for patient confidentiality ...

What is the "confidential" information that might accompany a
vial with a name and number on it?  What offence is caused to
the patient if someone at the landfill site finds a labelled
plastic container? People's names are in the phone book.

If a label said "22638514 Clinton, Bill: Tests for syphilis, 
HIV and monicagerms" there might be a case for confidentiality, 
but labels are not really that interesting. The associated request
forms might make more informative reading, with revelations like 
"kidney biopsy - ?glomerulonephritis" or "Hb, WBC & diff, ESR."   

Whiners have always been despised, and rightly so. Why, therefore,
is there concern that a poor wretch (scavenging in the dump) might find
a vial that bears the name a whining wretch? Paupers have to be better
in every way than whiners. (There are probably some whining paupers,
perhaps the only people with a right to whine, but they won't be
the ones demanding secrecy in the disposal of tubes and labels.)

 John A. Kiernan,
 Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology,
 The University of Western Ontario,
 LONDON,  Canada  N6A 5C1

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