Patients’ Rights Under HIPPA

According to HIPPA, every patient has certain rights and obligations. Which ones? – Read further in the article.

What Rights Have Patients Under the HIPAA?

Among the personal databases, medical records are considered to be containing some of the most sensitive information as far as privacy is concerned. Some of the critical information contained in the medical records includes medications used, mental and physical disabilities, alcohol and drug use, suicide attempts, accounts of breakdowns, psychiatric evaluations and histories, and family backgrounds.

Some of the parties that are highly interested in assessing some of this medical information include co-workers, law enforcement officials, legal adversaries, employers, marketers, researchers, and insurance companies. Given that not all the entities named above have the best interest of the patient at heart, the patients’ medical records should be kept as confidential as possible while giving to the right entity the permission to view the records.

Until the year 1996, not federal laws were in place to protect the privacy of the patients’ medical records whereas different states had different laws that dictated the privacy of patients. However, upon the establishment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a privacy rule that upheld the health records of patients changed everything. Find this topic interesting and want to write an essay, then apply to We Will Consider Your Request to Write My Essay.

Initially, HIPAA was established to facilitate and encourage the transition to the electronic health records (HER). The electronic health records made it easier for health care workers and physicians to access the health records of patients in remote locations. For instance, it allowed the doctors to access the possible allergies, current medication, and historical health problems of patients brought to the emergency rooms away from home, consequently leading to safer and better care.

The easily accessed and well-organized health care records facilitate efficient reimbursement, payment, and billing. Lastly, the EHR provided large medical information databases critical for research and hence bringing better treatment and understanding of diseases. However, similar to other data stored in computers, available over networks, and easily searchable, the patient information in the EHR may end up being in the hand of wrong people. As a result, the HIPAA issues regulations on the privacy of health records of patients.

What Does the HIPAA Rule State?

According to the rule, the covered health care providers have the responsibility to allow the patients to choose whether their health information records may be disclosed for specific purposes. The specific purposes under which the health information may be disclosed to others include payment, treatment, or health care operations.

However, the permission is not only limited to the covered health care providers. Concerning how the choice of the patient can be implemented in EH information exchange, the relevant health care providers are allowed to offer the patients the choice to choose whether the information should be shared directly or through the HIE (health information exchange). In other words, the patient may choose to opt in or opt out of the policy. However, it is not a necessary requirement for the health care providers to allow the patients make such a choice.

What the Legal Requirements Are for Opt Out and Opt In Policies?

In the U.S., the health and human services department does not clearly set the requirements of procedures for obtaining the choice of the patient concerning their participation in the electronic health information exchange (eHIE).

However, it is necessary to inform the patients the new exchange models and give them the opportunity to choose whether they would like to participate in them. This enables the patient to develop trust in these systems. The healthcare providers are encouraged to allow patients to make meaningful consent choices as opposed to the uninformed one.

Nevertheless, there are privacy laws that need the consent of the patient regarding his/her health information records. An example of the state and federal privacy law requiring the consent of the patient regarding the sharing of his/her health information records include Public Health Service Act Title X.

According to this regulation, the health care providers must seek a written consent from the patients concerning whether they could disclose his health information or not, to other organizations or people.

The healthcare providers must also obtain such consents even if it is meant for treatment purposes. The privacy health laws are meant to protect information about the health conditions that are regarded by most people as sensitive.

The Effect of HIPAA on Other Privacy Laws

The HIPAA was at the forefront in creating a baseline for the privacy protection. The regulations of HIPAA, therefore, preempts or overrides the rest of the privacy laws that tend to be less protective,

However, HIPAA does not influence the rest of the privacy laws that tend to protect the privacy of the patients. In regards to this legal framework, the implementers of the privacy laws, including the healthcare providers, must often consider other applicable state and federal laws requiring them to obtain the consent of the patient prior to sharing their health information with other parties. This ensures that the privacy and confidentiality of the patients are upheld at all times.