Patient confidentiality refers to the postulated right of the patient so that he or she has his or her personal or rather medical information kept at a private manner. It is stipulated that the information pertaining to the patient should only be made assessable to the relevant physician as well as other identifiable persons such as insurance personnel as well as the health care personnel. Medical physicians have been mandated with the duty to ensure that the information which they derive from their respective patients remain safe and confidential at the same time (American Medical Association, 2012).
This basically means that the physician does not allow exposing the medical information pertaining to these patients or in that case anything which is directly connected to the forms of treatment which the patient is receiving as a whole. According to the AMA Code of Medical Ethics, the information which pertains to a patient is expected to be kept in private so that the patient-physician relationship is in turn kept out of the public limelight. There are no exceptions to scenarios whereby third parties get access to the patients’ information without their full consent. It is further stipulated by the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs that the purpose for which the medical information is to kept confidential is for the mere reason that the patient will have an ample time opening up his or her condition to the physician so that the aforementioned physician can diagnose the ailment correctly and provide with a well suited prescription as well. As a form of favor for the patient’s level of honesty and openness, the physician will have to reward him or her with a surety of keeping the gathered information, out of reach of third parties.
The federal law postulates that the physician should seek consent from the patient before deciding on exposing the medical data altogether. However, there are various exceptions to this requirement which has been put to the access of physicians. These exceptions include the scenario upon which the patient is perceived to be threatening his or her bodily harm or that of a third party. Other exceptions are when the medical information is required to be presented to the other treatment providers, health care financial assistances covers, third parties which the health institution feels could be in one way or another affected by the information, medical researchers who are interested with the medical information under review as well as to the law enforcement officials who might be needing the information for legal matter. It is further postulated that the caregiver should work towards establishing a coherent form of relationship with the patient so that they (patients) could put their trust in them and develop a warm and accepting form of relationship. This is especially postulated in the mental health treatment facilities (American Medical Association, 2012).
The most affected population with this issue is the minors especially the adolescents. While it may somehow be impossible for the guardians and parents of the adolescent to get access to their medical information, especially information which exposes their respective conditions pertaining to HIV and AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases, they are entitled by law to get the information so that they can help in any possible way. This scheme of help could be in form of finances as well as advice. It is also postulated that awarding the adolescents with the full right of privatizing their medical information might act towards the preventing them from seeking medical assistance (treatments) particularly to the conditions which pertain to HIV and AIDS as well as to the other forms of sexual transmitted diseases. The limit to keeping the information private is also put so that the researchers can gain an access to these forms of information which will be needed to planning for health matters of the state under consideration. Another population which is perceived to be affected by this issue is the elderly population, especially those who are suffering from chronic conditions. It is argued that the elderly population relies on their children for almost everything as they are not able to work and provide for their respective health covers and will therefore need the financial assistance of their children. These would in turn require their respective medical information to make crucial decisions pertaining to the issue at hand (Terry, 2011).
There are basically bodies which have been put in place to ensure that the issue of the patient’s medical information is kept in private. The IRB and other Privacy Boards have been created with the purpose of ensuring that the patient’s information is kept safe and in confidence. Violations of the policies which have been put forward by the HIPAA Privacy Rule may subsequently lead to both civil and criminal fines as well as imprisonment. The office of the civil rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is awarded the responsibility of executing these civil forms of violations on the part of the medical institution as a whole. The breach of contract is usually compensated in terms of monetary damages. The fines which have been put forward by the HIPAA range from fines of up to $ 25000 for any single offence committed within the stipulated year (National Council on Patient Information and Education, 2007). It is further noted that the Department of Justice is always keen to pick up cases which have been referred to them by the HIPAA in general. In most cases the HIPAA is set out to formulate standards which will in turn be used by the court to award damages in form of compensation. The penalties which are postulated for the covered personnel or rather entities within the medical institution such as the directors, employees as well as the health administrators face a fine of up to $50,000 including a jail term of up to one year in total. This form of judgment is made when it is clearly proved by the Department of Justice that these entities did in fact knowingly assess or rather disclosed medical information pertaining to patients without their consent at all American (Medical Association, 2012).
The health administrators are mandated with the task of acting in accordance with the law so that they ensure that the medical institution as a whole adheres to the rules and regulations which have been formulated by the relevant bodies pertaining to patient’s medical information as a whole. They are indeed charged with the responsibility of protecting the confidentiality of the patient’s medical information as well as encourage their subordinates to conduct duties and responsibilities in a way which will inspire the trust and the confidence of their clients who in this case are the patients. Health administrators are also not expected to undertake any form of action which will be termed as discriminatory oriented and are only expected to disclose the patient’s information when it is a requirement by the law of the given authority as a whole (McFadden, 2010).
It is therefore wise to indicate that the laws which govern the confidentiality of patient’s information have been designed to control the unethical behavior of physicians who may allow third parties to assess the information without the consent of the patient. In order to avoid the penalties and fines, physicians are encouraged to design office procedures which help in preventing the exposure of the medical information without the consent of the patient. The procedure could involve scenarios upon which special types of office forms are attached to those request which are directed to the medical information (McFadden, 2010). These forms can designed in such a way that they have columns which indicate the date when the request was made as well as another which indicates the date upon which the authorization was granted by the patient. Another form of solution is by physicians taking consideration to seek the services of the professional so that their respective contracts are reviewed by consultants as well as attorney before they are made to engage in any form of informational release. They are also encouraged to gain knowledge on how to compare the aspect of confidentiality to the security measures which have been implicated to provide control on the same.