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Commitment To Privacy: The Dual Goals Of The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act (Hippa

1560 words - 6 pages

In 1996 the federal government passed a law called The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) with “dual goals of making health care delivery more efficient and increasing the number of Americans with health insurance coverage” (Nass & Levit). The 1990’s brought about the realization that the medical industry would be run more efficiently by computerizing medical records. Title II of HIPPA, titled Administration Simplification, addresses the not only the patients right to privacy but also the issue surrounding electronic transmission of health information. It created a set of uniform rules or standards for transmission and handling of patient data that became effective in April 2003. There are five areas covered in Title II under Administrative Simplification. They are the Privacy Rule, the Security Rule, Transactions and Code Sets Rule, the Unique Identifiers Rule and the Enforcement Rule. This paper will be focused on the Privacy Rule and Security Rule as they apply to the field of nursing.
The Privacy Rule is the area that has the most influence on day to day nursing. It is intended to give patients some control over their records, establish guidelines that all health care providers must follow and hold people responsible for any violations that may occur. The information protected by this section includes all medical records, payments or any information that can identify a patient also known as Protected Health information (PHI). The rule applies to all healthcare providers, health plans and clearinghouses. There are many areas in an office, hospital or healthcare setting where the privacy of a patient can be compromised. This includes patient charts, nursing assignment boards, lab slips, specimens and medication administration records. Nurses come in contact with many if not all of these items in the course of a day. It is the responsibility of the nurse to make sure that only those with the legal right to the information have access to it. The nurse must always be aware of where they are, aware of who is around when reviewing a patients records and be careful to only access records that are necessary for the immediate care of the patient.
According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), an average of 150 people “from nursing staff to X-ray technicians, to billing clerks” have access to a patient’s medical records during the course of a typical hospitalization. While many of these individuals have a legitimate need to see all or part of a patient’s records, no laws govern who those people are, what information they are able to see, and what they are and are not allowed to do with that information once they have access to it. ("HIPAA Turns 10: Analyzing the Past, Present and Future Impact"). On the job, a nurse may be in or be brought into situations where a patient’s information may be disclosed. Some of the biggest threats to violations are discussing information in an elevator or hallway...

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