Medical privacy allows for confidentiality in the information regarding any patient. The trend has however changed and today the doctors do not respect the confidentiality clause (Nicholls, 2011). It is very shameful that about three hundred hospitals are facing charges of breaching the clause as a result of sharing information about patients that was intended to be private.
The issue of privacy is important to ensure patients are free to give all information concerning their medical history without fear of being exposed. It will also allow for better health care services as the doctors will have all the information they require to make the right diagnosis. A patient who feels that their information is subject to sharing will tend to disclose some matters and reserve other issues that they consider may harm their reputation in the public domain.
Privacy influences where a person will seek treatment and care. An institution might be providing good services but due to lack of measures on the security of information be avoided by patients; hence, the patients will go to other institutions and this at times means receiving sub-standard services. Privacy is therefore not only illegal and immoral but also has a great impact on treatment patients receive.
The caregivers should be aware that patients are sensitive to the issues they medically face and so must take the appropriate measures to guard against breaching of trust (Pozgar, 2009). This will go a long way to create confidence in the patients and further improve on the care that is given to them. Some patients might even postpone seeking treatment until they are able to get a place where they will not feel that their trust has been broken or privacy violated.
Privacy has more adverse effects in the long run than just the normal ethical concerns (Nicholls, 2011). It is therefore important to ensure that information is secure and private so that the patients seek medical care at the right place and appropriate time availing all the information that will enable them get the best service.
The article shows that patients are every day becoming frightened and thus opposing the introduction to usage of electronic record keeping. Although the shift will reduce costs and improve on accuracy of record keeping, patients are not receptive to the change (Pozgar, 2009). The government has thus introduced new measures to enforce the rules in privacy to be able to implement the new change.
Health experts suggest that the rules already in place do not offer enough protection even when privacy is breached. Strong laws must be introduced so as to make the breach a criminal offense. Since one should not use information that they have acquired without consent, privacy is a critical issue and consequences of breach must be severe.
The patients also fear that with breach of privacy, getting health insurance will be very challenging. In a time span of about two years the privacy breach has seen over seven million people being exposed (Freudenheim, 2011). In adverse cases, there has been theft of the information from where the records were kept. This rising trend is very wanting. Those affected were informed according to federal rules that their personal and medical information was violated. This did not however effect the necessary changes. A recent research has shown that the law is very laxative on this issue. A number of seven hospitals have systems in place which can easily be accessed and information derived by unauthorized parties.
There is limited awareness to hospitals on how to take up alerts from hackers to protect their information. Though the industry is vigilant enough to ensure personal information is protected, cases of breach are still rampant. Early in March it was reported that one million, nine hundred thousand members had their health plans’ records lost (Freudenheim, 2011). It is with profound experience that the trend is indeed a reality. Medical records of Mr. Baron who is co-chairing the Privacy Caucus Bipartisan lost his records and several thousand of other individuals (Freudenheim, 2011). The records were said to have been in a truck stored in a flash disk. The truck mysteriously got lost. Although legislation has been put so that the information on patients stays private, it is still not robust. Connections can be made of addresses and names to data with so much ease as a normal internet search as well as match up computer searches (Pozgar, 2009). It is however important to note that higher fines have been introduced for those who breach the laws in practice and enforcement is being done better than earlier before.
Patients who are not allowed access to their personal records can seek remedies from the court (Pozgar, 2009); thus the situation is being addressed from day to day so as to ensure people know the importance of not adhering to the set rules.
Despite the changes which are being implemented to protect the medical information, data must still be available when needed to aid in treatments to patients.
Though technology has seen great advances, it is still a challenge to protect information from violation and hacking. Laws enacted before do not seem sensible at the moment, however, at an earlier time they were appropriate (Nicholls, 2011). Even with the new law on electronic data storage, there will still be insecurity experienced. Legally, an insurer should not be allowed to discriminate a person due to their health status on HIV/AIDS, mental health and cancer problems (Pozgar, 2009).
Employers should also not judge anyone based on their health condition. The other laws which are suggested include ensuring that patients are the exclusive owners of their data; they can therefore do anything to it at will. This will change the current state of affairs where whoever is in possession of the information owns it.
The legislation to control the information that is accessed by unauthorized parties can no longer be inhibited. The legislation must put measures that will protect the way the information is handled once one is in possession of it. The transfer of information is widely rampant as it is; research shows that a minimum of thirty people have specific knowledge of a typical person. The information is thus available to doctors and many other parties. Ethically one must treat information with care so that it is secure and private as negligence is punishable by law. The government has put in place measures to ensure individuals are ethical in handling the information.
Management should ensure it has a confidentiality clause which protects the information from being transferred without consent of the patient. The information must be stored where it cannot be easily reached and transported: mobile phones should not store records and information should be encrypted to further ensure its security.
The privacy of medical records will be a constant challenging task. The laws put in place must be enforced. Awareness should be created to ensure this information is not lost or shared with other parties. All stakeholders must be responsible in handling the data as this is the most appropriate way to ensure that a level of security is maintained and health care is as efficient as possible.
Freudenheim, M. (2011). Breaches lead to renewed effort to protect Medical Data. New York
Times. Retrieved from
< http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/business/31privacy.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all >
Pozgar, G. (2009). Legal and Ethical issues for Health Care Professionals. Michigan: Jones &
Nicholls, K. (2011). Steadman’s Guide to the HIPAA Privacy & Security Rules. Philadelphia:
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins