An Overview of Privacy and Confidentiality in Healthcare

The government seeks to make a patient’s information and data confidential. It is illegal for medical facilities to share medical records with a second party without the patient agreeing. The law is not only applicable to an STD clinic, but it is a requirement for all medical facilities to follow the regulations.

Privacy is a Right

When patients are seeking treatment, it is vital for them to feel safe as they give information. Whatever the findings are, hospitals and other medical facilities have the obligation of keeping the information confidential. A patient can undertake legal action against facilities that breach their trust and mishandle their information.

The law is clear on the need for confidentiality in the relationship between doctors and their patients. A doctor breaches the provisions when they disclose the patient’s information to a third party without their client’s knowledge.

What does the Law consider Confidential?

Here is information that needs to remain confidential during and after the treatment process;

  • Personal information and details concerning a patient. It includes names, dates that the patient attended the clinic, tests conducted on the patient, among other procedures undertaken in the course of treatment.
  • Doctor’s diagnosis, reviews, assessments, and recommendations.
  • All records about diagnosis and treatment: it includes historical data about a patient.
  • Communication; whatever a patient and doctor discuss need to remain between them. It is against the law for a medical practitioner to disclose the information to a third party.

Are there any exemptions?

A medical practitioner can disclose the information about a patient for these reasons;

  • When the conditions are life-threatening, and the doctor needs information about the patient. The personnel might need to disclose information about an unconscious patient to a third party for the treatment and identify any allergic reactions.
  • If a patient poses a risk to the public, doctors can disclose their information to relevant authorities. The report helps in cautioning the people, especially if the disease is contagious.

There are a variety of other circumstances that doctors may need to disclose a patient’s information. However, medical practitioners are under no patient and doctor confidentiality once the individual is no longer alive.

Tips to Confidentiality for Medical Practitioners

Here are some tips to help health workers keep patient’s information private and confidential;

  • Ensure to lock away the patient’s records when not using them. It helps to limit the people who can access the information.
  • Medical records are not items to read when bored at work. Resist from looking into files of patients that you are not attending to.
  • Only utilize the patient’s information for medical care and treatment processes.
  • Please do not use a patient’s data and records for research without their consent.
  • Avoid writing down a patient’s information on random papers in the facility. Do not throw around documents with any information about a patient.
  • Adhere to storage rules and guidelines.

Conclusion

It is the liberty of patients to talk about their medical conditions with other people. However, the confidentiality rule applies between a doctor and patient only. So, choose wisely who you tell.

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