The term “identiality” pertains to the confidential nature of medical records. These records are those that contain information that has been deemed private by a doctor or other medical professional with whom the patient has established a relationship. Medical records cannot be shared with third parties without first obtaining the patient’s written consent.
The healthcare industry has come under fire in recent years for releasing patient medical information to the general public without patient authorization. This can lead to identity theft and fraud, as well as a breach of patient confidentiality. Personal information such as Social Security numbers, financial data, and even inquiries into past medical treatments are being made available on the internet, which is why it is necessary to know and understand what is confidentiality in healthcare.
Some doctors are trained to spot inconsistencies in patient records and report them to the insurance company. However, most doctors do not take the time to examine each record to determine whether the information should be shared with outsiders or kept within the confines of the patient’s own medical records. In some situations, the lack of information is due to a simple clerical error, but in many cases the patient does not have access to the information they need to make this determination. The result is that they waste precious time and resources searching for the information that they simply don’t have. This wasted time can be applied towards more important matters.
So, what is confidentiality in healthcare anyway? It is important for patients to feel comfortable in their own environment, whether that is in the doctor’s office to the emergency room, the operating room, the hospital waiting room, or the private quarters of their own home. Privacy in healthcare encompasses the patient’s personal information, medical records, and other related communications. All medical professionals who deal with patients-in-need understand the value of confidentiality. For example, any intimate conversation with a patient regarding their health must remain confidential. Any written communication detailing a patient’s medical history must also remain private.
Patients often wonder what happens if they discuss certain topics outside of the scope of a doctor-prescribed treatment, such as concerns about their health with friends or family. Often, it is a good idea for patients to share these discussions with close friends and relatives, but keeping medical records confidential is another matter entirely. Some facilities allow patients to view their medical records on their computer or with a thumbprint device, but the practice may still retain all electronic communications and correspondence, including text messages, phone calls, and emails. Privacy in healthcare includes the right to protect patients from threats to their security, both physical and electronic, as well as ensuring the confidentiality of medical records.
A key question for anyone in need of confidentiality in healthcare is whether or not their privacy will be violated if they discuss their condition with a third party professional such as a nurse, social worker, or nurse’s aide. Although patients are under no legal obligation to share their personal medical records, they are urged to do so if only to establish a line of defense against potential lawsuits. The nurse may even have a legal right to release some information to the patient, depending on state law, and the social worker may have the right to share some information with the patient, again, depending on state law. Even if a patient doesn’t express any fear or concern about sharing their information with anyone, it is wise to consult a lawyer before doing so. After all, a lawyer can serve as a mediator between a patient and a healthcare provider to iron out the details of what is confidential in healthcare and whether or not that third party has a legal right to access the information.