Confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of the work of the ombudsperson. Confidentiality means that the fact of your visit and everything you say to the ombudsperson is kept confidential unless you, the visitor, wish to give the ombudsperson permission to disclose specific matters to specific individuals in an attempt to resolve the issues.
Conversations with individuals involved are also kept confidential. In other words, every contact with the ombuds office is maintained as confidential unless the ombudsperson is given permission to convey information to a specific person.
The privilege of confidentiality can only be waived by the ombudsperson.
The only time the ombudsperson will breach the promise of confidentiality is when imminent bodily harm is threatened by the visitor to another or to him or herself. This rule is in accordance with the Code of Ethics of The Ombudsman Association.
The office often is one of a few places where individuals may discuss concerns without fear of any untoward consequences. One of the most important aspects of the office is that matters involving potential legal duties on the part of managers such as the duty to investigate an issue involving sexual harassment can be fully discussed without the ombudsperson having to act. The ombudsperson is independent and is not considered a manager or University officer. Indeed, the office was established to provide a place where there can be no “downside” to discussing difficult issues.
In short, consistent with the neutrality of the Ombudsperson and the confidential nature of the process, communication to the Ombudsperson does not put Stanford University or the School of Medicine on notice of the content of that communication. If you wish to report a problem or concern or file a complaint or grievance, the Ombudsperson can direct you to the appropriate person, office or procedure.