The health care system of any country entails information processing for the purposes of qualitative, informed, and timely care delivery. However, health data, as any personal information, must be subject to privacy protection. Thus, the legislative system regulates the terms of disclosure of the medical information contained in the medical records of all individuals to ensure their confidentiality and the right to privacy and confidentiality.
A person’s medical record is the documentation in a written form that concerns the patient’s health. It comprises past health history, diagnoses, screening records, and correspondence (Fremgen, 2019). The medical record is important because it allows for “continual management of a patient’s healthcare and furnishes documentary evidence of the course of evaluation and treatment (Fremgen, 2019, p. 219). In particular, a standard medical record includes such elements as diagnoses, examination evidence, consent, documented complications, treatment, consultation reports, physician notes, and discharge summary.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a national health care law that establishes the confidentiality protection for medical information of patients. The Privacy Rule is the core of the law; it requires that “all “covered entities” must be in compliance with the privacy, security, and electronic-data provisions” (Fremgen, 2019, p. 244). Medical organizations, individuals in the health care sphere, and insurance companies are obliged to follow the Privacy Rule. The purpose of HIPAA is to create standardized rules and procedures to protect private health information from disclosing without patients’ consent. There are several exceptions to disclosure under HIPPA; according to Fremgen (2019), “only two disclosures are required by HIPAA: for Health and Human Services (HHS) requests and to honor patient requests” (p. 251). However, the requirements include the necessity to disclose minimum information about a patient.
In conclusion, since health-related information is crucial for physicians when diagnosing, treating, or preventing illnesses, health history availability and security are essential. Unfortunately, in times of technological advancement, there are more threats to medical information confidentiality. Thus, the requirements to medical records and HIPAA provisions allow for providing patients with quality care and privacy with the necessity to obtain consent or permission for data disclosure.
Fremgen, B. F. (2019). Medical law and ethics (6th ed.). Pearson.