Hipaa Patient Confidentiality And Ethical Dilemmas In Elderly Patient Care

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HIPAA Patient Confidentiality and Ethical Dilemmas in Elderly Patient Care

HIPAA Patient Confidentiality and Ethical Dilemmas in Elderly Patient Care


HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was published in the year 1996. The act consists of HIPAA security rule and the HIPAA Privacy rule. The act covers entities such as health plans, doctors, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes (Ross, 2002). The underlying purpose of the Act was to come up with national standards for health care transactions that take place electronically and protects employees and their families for health insurance when they leave their job.

Patient confidentiality refers to safeguarding the personal health information of each individual. When a person comes for treatment to a doctor he puts his trust in the doctor and expects that this relationship of trust will not be breached. This is not only a legal but also an ethical duty of every healthcare professional including nurses, insurers, doctors and insurers. Patient confidentiality refers to “the disclosure of nonpublic information within a fiduciary, professional or contractual relationship.” (Majumder, 2005).

The paper discusses the HIPAA rules for patient information and assesses the positive and negative impacts of breach of patient confidentiality on patient care. The covered entities under the HIPAA include healthcare providers, health care clearinghouses as well as health plans. The information in this context refers to written, spoken or even electronic information. The collective name for this information in the privacy policy is protected health information (PHI). This includes all the information on the employee whether it is from the past, present or the future (Ross, 2002). This information is available to the patient himself but is not available to anyone else other than the extraordinary circumstances where it may be provided and shared.

Impact of breach of patient confidentiality on patient care

There are 12 circumstances where personal health information can be used for purposes unrelated to health care. These circumstances are discussed hereunder (NIH, 2011).

Where the record of patient information is required by law.

Where the record can play an essential role in determining the public health activities.

Where the patient is a victim of domestic violence and physical abuse or is neglected

Where the record can play a pivotal role in assessing the oversight of health activities

Where the record is needed for administrative and judicial proceedings,

Where the record can help in enforcing the law,

Where the record is needed by the descendants of the deceased,

Where the record pertains to a person who has donated an organ such as eye, an important organ or tissue,

Where the record is required for research

Where not stating the record can cause a threat to societal health and safety. For instance, the information on a person suffering from HIV AIDS.

Where the record can help the government with any of its essential functions,

Or last but not the least in a scenario where the record sharing is essential for the employee to secure his compensation.

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