Technological innovations continue to impact all spheres of business operations, and the healthcare industry has not been left behind. Use of technology in healthcare is quickly being adopted in healthcare facilities to enhance efficiency, cut operation costs, and improve overall patient outcomes (Matic, Davidson & Salamonson, 2011). However, the adoption of these innovations hasn’t been without outcomes. Legal issues have arisen as a result of use of technology, especially when it comes to patient protection and confidentiality of patient information. One of the goals of HIPAA is to protect the confidentiality and security of healthcare information (Perera, Holbrook, Thabane, Foster & Willison, 2011), and to achieve this goal, the agency has put forward measures that should be observed by healthcare professionals when using technology.
The case is a good example of how technology in healthcare can be abused, knowingly or otherwise, and how this abuse can result to legal issues. According to Matic, Davidson & Salamonson (2011), use of technology has improved the way in which healthcare information is shared across the interdisciplinary team, hence improving efficiency, and consequently improving the health outcomes. However, there are standards that should be observed, even when sharing that information with other healthcare professionals. For example, when information is being exchanged over a network, the network should be secure from hackers and unauthorized access (Perera et al., 2011). Lack of securing a network can lead to legal recourse if the information is accessed by unauthorized people.
Technological innovations have revolutionalized the delivery of care by improving efficiency and reducing human errors during input of data. Smart phones are now being used to record the status of a patient, instead of the manual charts. This use of smart phones has greatly reduced the human errors of misconceptions and misrepresentation of information. Also, healthcare facilities, like many other organizations, have joined the social media as platforms of marketing. However, as technological advances continue to have an impact on healthcare, both positively and negatively, the basic fundamentals of patient protection should not be forgotten. It is illegal to exchange patient information with unauthorized people (Perera et al., 2011). Additionally, even healthcare professionals who do not need the patient’s information should not access the information.
Unauthorized use of patient information not only arouses legal reproach, but also ethical issues for the healthcare nurse and the facility involved. Provision 1 of the Nursing Code of Ethics posits that “Nurses, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems” (ANA, 2012). The nurse in the case scenario assumed that since the patient was a celebrity, sharing his medical information would cause no harm, and by this assumption, violated the first provision of the Code of Ethics.
In conclusion, use of technology has brought a lot of benefits to the healthcare industry. However, as use of technology advances, so do the ethical and legal issues continue to rise. In the case scenario given, a nurse uses the smart phone to take pictures of a patient, and shares them with an unauthorized person, leading to a series of events that may lead to a lawsuit against the healthcare facility. The HIPAA has established guidelines that should be observed when using technology in relation to patient information, and it is the responsibility of care facilities to ensure that their staff understands these guidelines and adheres to them. Deviation from the set standards on maintaining the privacy of patient information leads to legal issues.
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