The article, “Confidence in Confidentiality” in the counselor magazine is about the HIPAA and federal confidentiality regulations part two. It shows the ethical issues about the rules and regulations of the two acts, which the government has tried to impose on the different parties involved, the patients and the doctors. Usually there is patient doctor privacy where information about the patient is not supposed to be revealed to anyone without the patient consent. However, due to the inclusion of the HIPAA act 1996 where the doctor has the right to reveal the patient information under certain circumstances. On the other hand, the part two regulations have come to protect the patients. It is important to note that the part two only protects those patients that have been treated under any drug related treatments but only specific ones (Gitlow, 2010).
The most affected people in the article are the patients because they have been left in a dilemma. This is because most of the time they are not aware of such laws and when such an issue is raised, they are the ones who are most affected. For instance, when the employers know that their employees are drug abusers, they might tend to suck them. In this case, the employees are the most affected by the ethical issue in relation to their information being confidential. Moreover, the information, which is to be released to a third party, is about them not anybody else. Therefore, the people who are most affected are the patients.
Additionally, most of the doctors especially those who practice privately would not want to disclose their patients’ information because they might end up losing their customers. This means that their businesses will be destroyed since no patient would like to be treated by a doctor who is disposing their information to third parties. On the other hand, if the information that was to be released is very vital in a criminal case, and is not revealed, it might lead to supporting crime. Therefore, the doctors and the patients are usually the ones who are affected by the information and not the third parties of the information.
The main argument in this situation is knowing to what extent the privacy of the patient is infiltrated. This is because it can do more harm than good if it is released especially into the wrong hands or for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, it can do better because the information might be very helpful. For instance, if the information that has been released will help catch a serial killer or the information that has been released will help develop another cure incase it is used as research. Therefore, the extent as to how much the information about the patient is to be released or not to be released is very important (Gitlow, 2010).
Another argument is the extent of damage the information will cause the patient if the information happens to be released. This is because many people argue that it is invasion of personal privacy and that nobody should be able to access the information apart from the parties involved. On the other hand, the information might be helpful to research, which could be very helpful to the world and the patient (Gitlow, 2010). Therefore, it would be best if the authorities decide on what information should be released to a third party and make sure that it does not harm the patient in anyway.
The different ethical issues that are in the article are about the confidentiality of the medical information between the patient and the doctor in accordance with the different regulations. In the HIPAA, the patient confidentiality is compromised where the doctors have been given the power to reveal the information under certain conditions. These conditions might be irrelevant causing the patient to be harmed. On the other hand, in part two regulation, they might protect information that is very useful as evidences or any thing else to the government authorities. Therefore, the ethical issue here is whether the rules and regulations violate the confidentiality of the patient doctor information or not.
Another ethical issue in this article is that the patient is left suffering when his or her information is revealed to a third party without his or her consent. For instance, if a third party happened to see the information about the patient may be the employer and finds out that the employee, who is the patient, has a history of substance abuse, it might lead to the employer sucking the employee. On the other hand, a crime might be committed and the doctor may have the evidence that is connected to one of his or her patients. However, due to the patient doctor privacy, the information might never be released.
The management or the different authorities are the ones who are supposed to come up with rules and regulations that help the patient and make sure that the privacy of the patient is protected. In the case of the article, the management or the authorities have a duty to protect the patient from any harm that might lead to the violation of their privacy incase their medical information is revealed to a third party. Another responsibility of the authorities is that they should ensure that the information revealed is for the purposes of doing good and not harming the patients in any way. Lastly, they should ensure that those who go against the rules and regulations that have been put in places are charged in a court of law due to the harm that they have caused the patient or the doctor (Bartolomei, 2010).
However, in the article, there are no solutions to this problem but there are some possible solutions, which can be used to solve the situation. The two regulations need to be implemented because they will help both the doctor and the patient if they are implemented. First, the relevant authority should meet so that they can discuss the necessity of the change. After they have done so, the first implementation should be on the HIPAA. Since the HIPAA have given the doctors the power of releasing their patient’s information, which should be controlled for the benefit of everybody.
The necessary authorities should try to come up with new regulations where the employer should not be allowed to access medical information about the employee. This is because the employer might be doing this out of malice or the employer might do this in order to take advantage of the employee. Therefore, the authorities should try to stop the employers from accessing the employee medical information. By doing this they will reduce unnecessary stress, which the employee might have gone through due to sacking or any other personal problems.
Another implementation that should be done on HIPAA is that the authorities should remove the rule that says that the doctors have the power to reveal the information to any third party. Despite the fact that their might be criminal relationships between a patient and a criminal case, the doctors should be disallowed to reveal this information because they can use it as an excuse in case the information got out in the open. Additionally, the doctor and the patient might engage in a disagreement, which could lead to the medical information of the patient being released to the third party. Additionally, the doctor might take advantage of the information that he or she might be having by blackmailing the patients. This can cause a lot of stress or discomfort to the patient. Therefore, the authorities should change this rules and regulations immediately.
In the part two regulations, the authorities should try to implement it so that they can make some exceptions as to when the information is to be released to the relevant authorities. In these regulations, they should impose that information about the patient should only be revealed to the government agencies incase there is need (Bernan, 2008). For example, if the patient is involved in a criminal activity and the evidence is in the medical information or incase the government is conducting a research about a cure, which will be very helpful to the patient and the world at large. Additionally, they should also implement it in a way such that the doctors are protected from any harm incase the information was to be revealed to a third party.
Bartolomei, K. (2010). HIPAA Violations & Patient Information. Ehow. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/facts_6734327_hipaa-violations-patient-information.html
Bernan. (2008). Congressional Record: Volume 149, Part 23. Washington DC, ML: Government Printing Office.
Gitlow, S. (2010). Confidence in Confidentiality. Counselor. Retrieved from http://www.counselormagazine.com/columns-mainmenu-55/84-from-the-addiction-physician/1117-confidence-in-confidentiality