Privacy of individual patient health information

Proper medical care is quite important in making sure that the well-being of patients is assured and secured. With an increasing number of patients all around the various medical centers, making a means to be able to come up with the best means to handle their care, privacy and security is key for all key players in the sector. Even though there has been quite an adverse improvement in the medical practice field, having a clear view towards the various possibilities that might have a negative effect on the same tends to bring out quite a lot on what to keep a note of and what to take a keen interest in when conducting these medical activities. With the intention of caring for the ill, having a clear yet divisive means to take care of these patients in the right way is important even when it comes to referencing the various healthcare means for all the patients. In fact, it is important to note that having a clear means is important since quite a small mistake in medical administration can lead to huge fatalities. By looking at quite a good example of the essence of this topic, The Independence Medical Center which is a rural referral hospital with a bed capacity of one hundred and fifteen people located in Iowa. For the staff here, just like in many other hospitals, they have tried their level best to ensure that they do away with errors and that the safety of their patients is assured. In order to achieve this, a lot has to be done which includes, continuous rounds all around trying to ensure that all patients are comfortable and are well taken care of.

Potential threat: Description

Concerns have been raised over the competency of the staff at the Independence Medical Center over the increasing leakage of patient records to outside sources. In fact, many patients are threatening to sue the entire hospital for defamation, and they keep claiming that their privacy has been violated. With clear rounds conducted by the statepatient safety officer, a lot was brought out and even more was uncovered hence creating quite a scene over the patient’s comfort and the enduring work plan of the entire staff. Even though the facility is small and the staffis quite a few in number than they can handle the patient,  a lot of negligence was also noted through the laziness of the entire staff while carrying out their duties and even outright carelessness when handling patients. Following the complaints raised by the patients, an impromptu investigation conducted by the state patient safety officer did actually come to agree with most of what the patients were trying to bring out on how they were being handled at the hospital. Many health centers usually have a way to keep track of patient records, and it is usually quite advisable to make sure that these records are stored safely so as to be able to uphold the privacy of these patients. During basic training, this is what is taught and highlighted upon from time to time. In this case, the records of a number of patients were found to have been misplaced, and even some of the critical doctor notes found to have been leaked to other parties hence compromising and violating the privacy of these patients.

Implications and Risks

Health care safety usually works towards highlighting the importance of patient privacy and safety through the upholding of the medical values as stated during field practice. In fact, one of the most highlighted important notes to take is that which majors on the privacy of the patients when it comes to their medical issues, the doctor’s assessments and even their ailments.

  • What health care safety has to say

When this health safety means is violated, it means that quite a huge amount of information regarding the patient has been put to risk and might even bring about more problems to the patient in the event that this information lands on the wrong hands. Patients usually want their private discussions and findings to be kept private from prying ears and eyes and hence, this is why health personnel is usually asked to sign an oath of discrepancy swearing that they would work hard to ensure that the information on their patients is kept safe and kept personal no matter the consequence.

  • How it is able to apply to the case

In such a case, the health care safety works towards making sure that the privacy of these patients is kept in check and that at the end of the day, in the event that the same is violated, the laid out disciplinary means are carefully conducted.

  • The regulatory agency with oversight on the same

As such, the HIPAA Enforcement under the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights usually takes the lead when it comes to enforcing the privacy rule for these patients and when conducting a follow up on any privacy complaints being brought up.

  • What it states about the issue

The HIPAA since its enactment has been on the forefront towards bringing about major changes in how the medical personnel operate and as such, their work of art since their inception has had an effect by being able to improve on the physician’s abilities to be able to perform well on their given fields and still be able to conduct perfect follow up effects on their patients so that at the end of the day, there can be an improvement in the quality of healthcare being provided. By making use of methods such as the introduction of consent forms and the personnel privacy oath forms, having a clear yet laid out means of working for health care providers has been realized.

  • Impacts on the organizations

Due to the strict rules being enforced by the HIPAA, most of the health organizations have had to come up with measures set by the organization which includes them making sure that they have established national standards for the electronic health care together with the best healthcare providers, decisive health insurance plans and clear set guidelines of operations. With clear means and having to make sure that the same is taken care of, these health organizations are able to secure their operations.

  • Impacts of regulatory agencies

By having a keen interest in patient privacy, a closer look at the effects of the HIPAA when the loss of data occurred in the Tricare Management in the year 2011 which led to huge fines and that of the Memorial Healthcare Systems with which they were fined a total amount of five million dollars. Furthermore, with their effective means of working, they have also been able to work towards a clear penalty for offenses such as knowingly disclosing one’s health information, operation under false pretenses and many other cases being seen in the medical field done by practitioners today.

  • Effect if the hospital fails to correct threats

If the hospital fails to correct the potential threat, they are flagged for closure, fines and even their various licenses of work revoked since they are perceived to be a threat to the well-being of the patients.

  • Patient safety officer’s role

A patient safety officer works in healthcare facilities to make sure that patients in various facilities are able to receive quality healthcare by being able to shape the way services in the health sector are rendered so as to do away with potential errors. To be able to achieve this, they have to make sure that the staff makes the patients be their top priority by making good use of analysis, reports, and prevention of potential hazardous errors.

  • Clarification and examples of the work done

In such a case, with the laid out complaints over the violation of their privacy, the best thing would be to lias with the hospital staff and conduct investigations on how the said documents leaked so that at the end of the day, with the penalties laid out over the same, a follow up and investigation can be done. It is believed that the HIPAA has various penalties for medical errors conducted and as such, justice can be done and followed through just as in the instances of the two organizations that had to pay dearly for their errors over patient care.

  • Recommendations

The best means to be able to do away with the patient privacy issue would be to come up[ with a decisive means to make sure that hospital records are kept safe and that at the end of the day, these records are kept personal between the hospital staff and the patient. In order to be able to achieve this, there has to be a few things to take into consideration which includes; a deeper effort towards the effects of the professional oaths being taken by the practitioners, safe document storage in the hospitals, adherence to the HIPAA regulations, effective observation of the patient safety officer from time to time so as to be able to take note of patient’s concerns and effective action taken to those who go against the means so that this can help maintain the discrepancy of the patients.






Bradburn, Norman. (2001). “Medical Privacy and Research.” The journal of legal studies.

Edemekong; Peter F. (2018). “Health insurance portability and accountability act.” Statpearls publishing

Hosek, Susan. (2013). “Privacy of individual health information.” Patient privacy, consent and identity management in health information exchange.

Miller, Amalia. (2009). “Privacy protection and Technology Diffusion: Electronic Medical Records.” Management Science 55:1077-1093- via JSTOR


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