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Confidentiality in Healthcare


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Confidentiality in Healthcare

  1. 1. Confidentiality in Healthcare Kristin Masterson MHA 690 May 17, 2012
  2. 2. Overview What is Confidentiality? HIPAA Confidentiality Breach Tips for Maintaining Confidentiality Disciplinary Actions
  3. 3. What is Confidentiality? “The ethical principle or legal right that a physician or other health professional will hold secret all information relating to a patient, unless the patient gives consent permitting disclosure”(American Heritage Medical Dictionary, 2007). “The nondisclosure of information except to another authorized person” (Mosby, 2009).
  4. 4. Confidentiality in the Healthcare setting ALL information about one’s patient is confidential. This means not only their health situation but also, living situation, family, and finances. As part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) healthcare organizations must make sure that patient’s medical information remain safe and confidential (Dudley, 2004).
  5. 5. Health Insurance Portabilityand Accountability Act (HIPAA) Enacted on August 21, 1996 Assures that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the publics health and well being. Applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and to any health care provider who transmits health information (OCR, 2003). Protects all individually identifiable health information held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral (OCR, 2003).
  6. 6. Individually Identifiable Health Information Information, including demographic data, that relates to:  the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition  the provision of health care to the individual  the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual, and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe can be used to identify the individual. Examples:  Name, address, birth date, Social Security Number, phone number, medical record number, and diagnosis (OCR, 2003)
  7. 7. Maintaining Confidentiality Employees must remember to guard patient’s information. During the course of the patient’s stay/ treatment at the facility patient’s put their trust in the people that are working with them. It is important that information shared during this time is not shared with anyone that is not directly involved in the care of that patient.
  8. 8. Confidentiality Breach A breach of confidentiality is a disclosure of private information to a third party not involved with the patient’s care, without patient consent or court order. Disclosure can be oral or written, by telephone or fax, or electronically, for example, via e-mail or health information networks (AMA, 2012). Accessing the medical records of patient’s without legitimate reason is also considered a breach of confidentiality (Fox, 2008).
  9. 9. Tips for Maintaining Confidentiality Only view information on patients that you are directly providing care to. After viewing confidential information on the computer, log off so others cannot view the information. Avoid discussing a patient’s care in non-private areas  Examples: elevator, hallway or cafeteria.  You never knows who is listening. Be careful of what you throw away. Personal health information should never be disposed of in the trash can. Any document thrown in the trash is open to the public and therefore a breach of information (Hicks, 2012). Think before you speak.  Is what you are about to say confidential?  If so is the person you are speaking to part of the patient’s healthcare team?
  10. 10. Disciplinary Actions Disciplinary actions for breaching patient confidentiality can range from fines to termination of employment, depending on the extent of the breach. Be aware that you can be held liable even if you give out your patients’ personal information by mistake. In June 2010 five California hospitals were issued administrative fines and penalties totaling $675,000 after it was determined theyd failed to prevent unauthorized access to confidential patient medical information (Miliard, 2010).
  11. 11. In conclusion it is imperative that as healthcare professionals we maintain our patient’s confidentiality at all times. This not only protects our patients but ourselves.
  12. 12.  Hopefully this computer based learning course has been informative and helpful. Feel free to review it until you are confident in the material that has been presented. When ready to complete the test over the material please contact your immediate supervisor.
  13. 13. ReferencesAmerican Heritage Medical Dictionary (2007). Houghton Mifflin Company. Retrieved from Medical Association (AMA). (2012). Patient confidentiality. Retrieved May 16, 2012 from:, G. (2004). Electronic Records, Patient Confidentiality, and the Impact of HIPAA. Retrieved May 16, 2012 from: News Network. (Aug 2008). Over 120 UCLA Hospital Staff Saw Celebrity Health Records. Retrieved May 16, 2012 from,2933,398784,00.html.Hicks, J. (2012). Avoid violation of HIPAA laws. Retreived from:, M., (June 2010). Five California hospitals fined for security breaches. Retrieved May 17, 2012 from: Medical Dictionary, 8th ed.(2009), Elsevier. Retreived from: http://medical- of Civil Rights (2003). Summary of the HIPAA privacy rule. Retrieved May 16, 2012 from: