Introduction: Consultation methods differ between medical practitioners depending on the individual setting. However, the central tenet to the doctor–patient relationship is the issue of confidentiality. This prospective survey highlights patient attitudes towards consultation methods in the setting of an ophthalmic outpatient department.
Method: Questionnaires were completed by 100 consecutive patients, who had been seen by an ophthalmologist in a single room, which had a joint doctor–patient consultation occurring simultaneously.
Results: Each question of all 100 questionnaires was completed. 58% of patients were not concerned about sharing a consultation room with another patient or doctor. However, this did not equate to the 49% of patients who were indifferent to discussing issues in the joint consultation room. The most common factor was the general issue of confidentiality.
Discussion: Ensuring total patient confidentiality may be deemed more necessary for certain medical specialties than for others, as seen in the practice of separate medical records in genitourinary medicine, for instance. However, with regard to patient consultations, the same level of confidentiality should be afforded across all specialties, and such factors should be borne in mind when planning outpatient clinics.
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Competing interests: None.
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