Ethical Issues in Healthcare

Topics: Health care, Health care provider, Medicine Pages: 5 (1478 words) Published: April 20, 2013

Ethical Issues in Healthcare
Healthcare ethics involves making well researched and considerate decisions about medical treatments, while taking into consideration a patient's beliefs and wishes regarding all aspects of their health. The healthcare industry, above any other, has a high regard for the issues surrounding the welfare of their clientele: their patients. This paper will focus on HIPPA, confidentiality, the efficiency and cost of information systems and doctor-patient relationship.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, is a law designed “to improve portability and continuity of health insurance coverage in the group and individual markets, to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery, to promote the use of medical savings accounts, to improve access to long-term care services and coverage, to simplify the administration of health insurance, and for other purposes.

When confidential patient information is disclosed without consent it is a violation of the HIPAA Title II Security Rule. This rule was enacted in response to private information being leaked to the news and emails containing privileged information were read by unauthorized people. Identity theft is a real concern so patient privacy should be taken seriously. This is a rule can easily be broken without the offender feeling any malice towards the victim for example gossip and curiosity. Gossip in a medical office can have devastating effects on a health care facility’s reputation. Employees engaging in idle chatter to pass the time can inadvertently be overheard by patients or family members.

Primarily, computer storage and exchange of information is the area where HIPAA intersects with technology. Anytime a computer stores patient information, the computer must have HIPAA precautions. For instance, the computer should only be accessible by certain persons who have a special access code and/or password to utilize the computer. Also, when a computer is not in use, it should be locked and the screen must be inaccessible from unauthorized persons. Furthermore, monitors and screens should be turned away from the public to prevent anyone from seeing private medical information.

According to the textbook “healthcare companies must appoint a privacy officer to develop privacy policies and procedure as well as train employees on how to handle sensitive patient data. These actions must address the potential for unauthorized access to data by outside hackers as well as the more likely threat of internal misuse of data. Some medical personnel and privacy advocates fear that between the increasing demands for disclosure of patient information and the inevitable complete digitization of medical records, patient confidentiality will be lost” (George Reynolds 2012).

Confidentiality is one of the most important ethical issues in health care. Maintaining confidentiality is becoming more difficult. While information technology can improve the quality of care by enabling the instant retrieval and access of information through various means, including mobile devices, and the more rapid exchange of medical information by a greater number of people who can contribute to the care and treatment of a patient, it also can increase the risk of unauthorized use, access and disclosure of confidential patient information. Within healthcare organizations, personal information contained in medical records now is reviewed not only by physicians and nurses but also by professionals in many clinical and administrative support areas.

The meaning of patient confidentiality is that personal and medical information that are provided to the providers of healthcare cannot be disclosed to others not unless the patient has provided authorization for the release. In fact permission is not supposed to be granted to health...

References: Shekelle P, Morton SC, Keeler EB. “Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology. Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments” No. 132. April 2006. Retrieved from
“How present is the idiom ‘off the record’ in healthcare?” Medical Ethics Advisor September 1, 2011: Vol. 27, No. 9 pp. 97-108 Retrieved from UMUC Library
McGowan, Claire. “Patients’ Confidentiality” Critical Care Nurse Vol. 32, No. 5 October 2012 pp. 61-65 Retrieved from UMUC Library
Reynolds, George W. (2012). Ethics in information technology (4th ed.). Independence, KY: Cengage Learning, Inc.
Nogara, J.S. “How HIPAA Law Affects Technology” Retrieved April 3, 2013
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