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Patients' Rights And Access To Medical Records

1010 words - 4 pages

Patients' Rights and Access to Medical Records

The confidentiality of patient visits and medical records are essential in providing the highest quality of health care. Under penalty of law, a patient's medical records or any other information regarding the patient may only be released with his or her authorization. Exceptions to this are certain cases specified by law for example, health care providers are required to report certain communicable diseases such as measles. Many organizations and laws have been developed to maintain patient's rights of confidentiality and access to their medical record. Guided by the principle that confidentiality is essential in developing strong trust between patients and healthcare providers, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) members are committed to ensuring that patient records are disclosed and only available to medical personnel and others acquired by law. In July 1999, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), introduced a new Patient's Rights Condition of Participation (CPO) that hospitals must meet to be approved for, or to continue participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Health Insurance and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) addresses the security and privacy of health data and also issues standards for electronic health care transactions. The vast accumulations of personal medical data gives rise to serious privacy concerns as a result of the potential for misuse.

The confidentiality of personal health information is an issue that affects every American. Secretary Donna E. Shalala, PhD from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services quoted, "Will our health records be used to heal or reveal us?" AHIMA, a professional team with 38,000 health information management professionals have proposed five principles to protect American's privacy and also use health information for purposes outside the boundaries of patient care. The first principle is that with very few exceptions, health care information about a consumer should be disclosed for health purposes only. The information should be easy to use for those purposes, and very difficult to use otherwise. The second principle is that technical security safeguards be maintained for computerized data. Including audit trails that identify who accessed the data and the prosecution against anyone who used the records for illegal or improper purposes. The third principle is consumer access. The patient should have ability to access his or her records and know others that also have access to them. Patients should be aware of the laws, regulations, and policies that protect their information. The fourth policy is defined as accountability, which is of relation to security and consumer control. Fines and imprisonment are required to those who breach security of personal health information. The final policy is public responsibility. Legislation must be balanced between personal, private interests...

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