Anyone that works in health care is aware that any information disclosed by a patient is confidential and can be shared only with authorized personnel. If an individual reveals patients confidential information with another individual who is not authorized to have access to that confidential information, the patient can sue. The definition of authorized personnel are those individuals that are directly involved in the diagnosis and treatment related to the care of the patient. Most likely these individuals are health care workers.
When a individual is admitted to the hospital, health careworkers cannot use photographs ot take videos without the permission of the patient being photographed or videotaped. When someone calls the the nursing station and inquires about a patient’s condition, discreetness needs to be used because there is no way to identify the caller on the phone. Many times a patient will identify one family member that information related to their health status can be release to. If a patient makes a decision to refuse treatment, this decision is to be respected even when the health care professional does not agree with the decision.
In the spring of 2003, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was implemented. HIPAA is the act that requires those that are involved in health care, including all organizations and individuals providing care to patients, to take rigid measures that ensure all patient’s privacy. In the health care field and the abundant use of computers, this act enforcesthat patient identifying information cannot be visible on the computer screen to unauthorized individuals and the general public. This caused a major overhaul in every health care organization.
Confidentiality is the right of the patient involving their own medical record. Any patient has the right to believe that any information that is disclosed to a health care professional is used solely for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment and will never be released to any other individual without permission.
If a health care worker provides treatment without the patient’s consent, with the exception of an emergency situation, it could result in battery for unauthorized touching. This is known as informed consent. An individual must be an adult that is competent to make choices and understand what the consequences of the choices they make are. If consent is obtained by threat or fraud is involved, legally there is no consent. Health care workers must avoid any situations involving coercion or manipulation. Any information that is provided by the health care worker to a patient must be done in a manner that is understandable to the patient. If a health care worker ask a patient to sign a consent and is aware that the patient was not provided information for explanation of a treatment, the consent is not valid.
All individuals involved in health care need to clearly understand that the patient must retain their basic fundamental rights. Laws are in place to protect patients when they are most vulnerable. Failing to protect the patient and adhere to the laws that have been established are a violation of a patient’s rights. All health care workers have a legal responsibility to protect the confidentiality and privacy of all patients.