Privacy and Confidentiality in Medical Practice

Privacy and Confidentiality

Privacy is a duty or need to prevent any form of information leakage. Moreover, in medical practice confidential information includes credibility and privacy of patient’s information submitted by the hospital employee during treatment, medical accesses or services.

There are two basic kinds of privacy and confidentiality. They are voluntary and forced. In the first case, it refers to prerogative of the individual. In the second case, information is a meaning for official use, which is available for a limited number of officers, individual state agency or organization, employees of private companies, and others. Both types of privacy are used in medical practice because limit of the information spread is identified not only by ethical norms but also by acts of legislation (Sanbar 73).

Privacy relations between the professional and the client (doctor and patient) are desirable as it is the evidence of fundamental values such as private life. Only a guarantee of observing by confidentiality requirements encourages the patient to be frank.

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Confidentiality is a condition that protects the social status of the patient. Medical diagnosis or medical information can significantly limit opportunities for social self-affirmation of a human. Especially, if this information is based on real mental and neurological disorders, cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, genetic defects and congenital degenerate anomalies of development, HIV/AIDS, or sexual problems. Privacy also protects economic interests of the patient. Information about human disease can severely limit economic, social, and political activity, promotion of career, and professional development.

Confidentiality is essential for ensuring openness in communication of doctor and patient. Patient should be sure that it will not have undesirable consequences for him or her while this person is an open book for a doctor or nurse.

Physicians’ popularity and prestige greatly depends on their ability to provide confidentiality of information about their patients. Owning the right to choose a doctor and medical institution, the patient selects those, except by appropriate professional qualifications corresponding to high moral standards (Jones 404).

Seriously ill people often depend entirely on the doctors. If the patient has trust in health care providers, he or she will remain confident that they always lead the patient’s interests. This confidence helps defeat the disease.

Privacy is significant essence for the realization of the patient’s right to autonomy, with effective control over his or her life. Respect for the principle of confidentiality in the relationship between doctors and patients is provided not only by ethical standards but also acts of the current legislation (Field 263).

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It is understood that original owner of confidential medical information is the patient. He or she takes the initial decision to cart possibility of information distribution by any means and anyone, including health care employees.

Further, in the process of patient care, health workers make out medical documentation. It contains patient’s confidential information, diagnostic data, record of treatment process using, x-ray photos, among others. This newly created material, which carries confidential medical information, becomes the property of the medical institutions or private doctors.

Hospitals and other health care facilities depend on the ability of staff to keep secrets of patients. Doctors, nurses, and clerks have access to highly confidential information. The hospital that tries to protect their employees from contacting with the critical patient’s information very quickly ceases to perform its functions.

All background about the inmate’s vitality condition, diagnostics, forecast, and therapy of the ailment as well as any other private information must be kept off the record, even after death of the patient.

Private data can be uncovered solely when it has apparently manifested permission of the patient or is demanded by enactment. It is prospective that the patients permit the revelation of confidential information to medical contingent participating in treatment.
All data that could reveal the identity of the patient must be protected. The degree of protection should be adequate form of data storage. Patients have a right of accessing medical history as well as all materials related to diagnosis and treatment. Patient has the right to obtain copies of these materials. However, data concerning the third party should not be available to the patient.

Patient has the right to request correction, additions, improvements, and elimination of personal and medical treatment if they are inaccurate, incomplete, or irrelevant to the justification of diagnosis and treatment.

Any intrusion into matters of personal and family life of the patient is prohibited, except for cases where the patient does not object to this interference and if the need is dictated by the objectives of diagnosis and treatment.

In any case, medical intrusion in secrecy of the patient, of course, involves consideration for his secrets. Therefore, such an encroachment could be carried out only in the presence of precisely needful for its carrying persons, unless otherwise wish of the patient (Balint 19).

Patients coming in the health care setting have the right to rely on the existence of inventory in this facility and equipment necessary for ensuring the preservation of medical confidentiality, especially in those cases where medical professionals provide care, conduct research and treatment.

There is a ministerial ordinance that sets the regulations for health facilities and health insurance companies in respect of who can sight and obtain personal health information.
This law is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) (Balint 20).

The chapters of this act consist of several important statements. It ensures patients’ right to dispose of their medical information, including the right to receive copies thereof, validation of health information, and reporting.

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Patient can require providing medical records and other information for reference and copies thereof. If you want to get a copy, then you may have to present their request in writing and pay the cost of copying and postage. In most cases, a copy of your medical information must be provided to you within 30 days. Patient can request correction of any inaccurate information contained in documentation, or make additions if he believes that your health information is incomplete or misses anything. For example, if you and your hospital agree that your test results, listed in your documentation, are incorrect, then the hospital administration is obliged to correct this error. Even if the administration of the hospital believes that test results are correct, you have the right to put a mark on disagreement in your medical records. In most cases, medical documentation should be changed within 60 days (Klosek 62).

The law provides the rights for the use and transfer of your medical information for specific purposes not directly related to your treatment, for example, ensuring quality of the doctors’ work, cleanliness and safety of therapeutic boarding schools, alert influenza epidemics in your region, or reporting required in compliance with state or federal law. In most of these cases patient can get a report on who was transferred to your health information.

As a rule, health records cannot be consumed for objectives not related to individual treatment directly without authorization. For example, your doctor may not make transferal of health information date to your tenant or use it in trading and advertising without your permission done in writing form. You, probably, have noticed how your medical information may be used during your first visit to the new provider, or when you switched a new health insurance. However, patient can request a copy notification at any time (Field 268).

Patient can inform health workers and health insurance company if he does not wish his information to be shared. Patient can ask if his health information is not passed to certain individuals, groups, or companies. For instance, you can ask your doctor not to transfer your health information to other physicians or medical staff of the clinic. Patient can also ask health care facility or pharmacy not to transfer to medical insurance company information about medical assistance or taken medications if he or she pays for medical care or medicines in full, and if medical institution or pharmacy must not receive payment from patient’s insurance company.

Patient can ask to be contacted in certain places or in a certain way. For instance, patient can ask the nurse to call him or her at work, not home, or send information in the envelope, not on a postcard.

Nevertheless, many people have opposite point of view on patient’s private information. There is a social hypothesis that the best way to solve the problem of medical privacy is to reveal the files and databases, making medical records freely available to all. Since each person has some medical problems, the best way to wash away the blot with the disease is to put them on public display (Field 265). But the problem with the opened access to medical records is personal features of each individual organism. Someone has diabetes, someone has asthma, and someone has inherited genetic disease. Some people have small schizophrenic deviations based on drugs. Making histories of everyone opened to the public will put people at risk of discrimination or personal attacks, for which there is always a reason. One of the goals of privacy in society is to protect all of us from different social problems that we have not got rid of (Sylvester, Connell, and Reichman 11).

There is one more reason why we should still respect the privacy of the patient. People who were able to cope with their physical or mental illness deserve to be free from various well-wishers, constantly reminding them about it. People deserve to control their medical issues and privacy of medical records.

Summarizing all research information, it should be noted that depending on regulations and ethics, confidentiality in the relationship of medical employee and patient is a principle that creates special atmosphere of trust and helps to provide complex of full rehabilitation in the features of social comfort and safety.

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