Patient Rights under the HIPAA

Subject: Law
Pages: 4
Words: 876
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Introduction

The HIPPA Act of 1996 is a federal law that addresses various areas under health care. The areas include health insurance, confidentiality of the patients, the administrative costs of health care, as well as the security of information relating to health care. The HIPAA Act was especially keen on ensuring that there is utmost privacy and protection of personal information of patients in the medical field. The HIPAA act was passed at a time when patient confidentiality had been severely eroded. Before the HIPAA Act, some stakeholders had lost faith in the health care profession with some players in the industry facing legal action. This paper discusses the rights of patients that are stipulated in the HIPAA Act.

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Background

The passage of the HIPAA Act heralded a new dawn in the health profession. The enactment of the HIPAA Act introduced strict confidentiality of the patient’s health information by limiting the disclosure of such information. All citizens have a right to be protected from any release of confidential health information that would reveal their identities. Further, the HIPAA Act provides a clear procedure under which the health care providers, health plan, and health care planning houses can access a patient’s private medical information when the need arises. The HIPAA Act also provides patient with the right to protection from discrimination.

The HIPAA Act also delves into the question of treatment of veterans. It asserts that all patients have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. All patients have a right to disclosure. Veterans have a right to participate in the decisions which have an impact on their treatment. A patient who is not satisfied with the treatment process in a given health care organization has the right of filing a complaint without having any fear of reprisals. One of the most fundamental rights that are given to patients under the HIPAA Act is the right to have control over their health information (Solove 6).

Right to access Protected Health Information (PHI)

The HIPAA Act grants all patients the right to examine their health information. Those who wish to get a copy have a right to do so as to understand the information being used to make decisions on their treatment. This means that nurses and other professionals in the field of health care have a duty to explain and interpret the health information at their disposal for their patients. Some of the information that the patient may request includes the billing records, dental records, as well as x-ray images.

The Right to Amend PHI

Upon accessing the PHI, a patient may feel that their health information is not included or is included wrongly. In such a case, the patient has a right to have the PHI amended. However, it is good to note that the information that can be amended is limited to the billing records or processing record errors only.

Rights to Accounting of Disclosures

Disclosure refers to the release of information outside of the health organization. There are times when disclosures may be necessary even when the patient has not explicitly allowed for this. Such cases include those involving a public health activity such as immunizations, birth or death certificates, cancer registries, reports of abuse (may be domestic or neglected), as well as many other disclosures that are mandated by law. While the health organization has a right to provide this information, the patient too has a right to be given the list of the disclosures if he or she wishes to track down the given information (Richards 550).

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The Right to Request a Specified Method of Communication

There are patients who wish to be communicated to in a particular way. For example, the patient may instruct the health care professional not to leave reminders on his or her answering machine. The HIPAA Act gives the patient the right to make communication changes so long as they do not involve more than one area. For example, the health care organization is not obliged to instruct the billing department to send a patient’s bill to his or her father’s house.

The Right to Request Restrictions on PHI

The HIPAA Act gives patients the right to limit how his PHI is used or to whom it will be availed. The patient may not want family members or friends to have the PHI in which case the health organization would be obliged to respect this request. Other patient rights that are entrenched in the HIPAA Act include the right to receive a copy of the privacy practices in the health organization offering his or her treatment.

Conclusion

From the discussion, it is clear that the HIPAA Act is an important piece of legislation for all health care professionals. Nurses must ensure that they understand the provisions of the HIPAA Act so that their duties to patients are within the provisions of this law. Indeed, it is clear that before the passage of the HIPAA Act, there were a significant problem in the health care sector as most of the medical care providers did not respect the rights of the patients. The HIPAA Act seeks to guarantee the rights of the patients to be treated with dignity and to have their health records held in confidence.

Works Cited

Richards, Margaret M. “Electronic medical records: Confidentiality issues in the time of HIPAA.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 40.6 (2009): 550. Print.

Solove, Daniel J. “HIPAA turns 10.” Journal of AHIMA/American Health Information Management Association 84.4 (2013): 2-8. Print.