HealthCare Paper

Healthcare Law

Patients have different rights that health care institutions need to protect. Conventionally, there was laxity in the protection of the rights of the patient. However, modern society has seen increased sensitization about issues concerning these rights in contemporary health care institutions. In this essay, the patient’s right under exploration is the confidentiality of the health information given to health care institutions by patients. The right ensures that the latter have the right to talk to the health care providers in confidence and for the information to remain private. It is only the patient who has the right to read and copy their medical information and to request his/her caregiver to make the necessary changes. The Health Information Act (HIA) protects the right of the patients to have their information private and to restrict its accessibility to a limited number of individuals who have the necessary clearance (The White House, 2010). 0721813988

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There is a legal basis as well as an ethical one originating from this right. The legal basis involves ensuring the information patients provide in confidence remains private. The persons who need to access it to facilitate the well-being of the patient are the ones who are allowed to use the medical records. The ethical basis involves ensuring that health care practitioners use the information the patients provide for the right purposes. There are interested parties who, when they have access to the information, can manipulate it for their own profitability or the avoidance of risk like in the case of insurance companies.

There are different cases that provide a platform for understanding the right of patients to the confidentiality of the information and its application in society. For example, in February 2016, Denise Tourneur pleaded guilty to knowingly accessing health information of seven patients without permission and breaching their right to information confidentiality. Tourneur worked at the Alberta Health Services and was able to access the health records on44 different occasions (Edmonton Provincial Court docket 150388239P1). After her guilty plea, the judge ruled that she should pay a fine of $1,000 for contravening the Health Information Act (Sibbald, 2016).

The second case is that of Lisa Belanger who for some time had been receiving patients’ personal mental health records in her fax machine. This was a concern to her because of the implications of having access to patients’ health records, which goes against the provisions of the Health Information Act with the penalty for not protecting such information being a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a jail term of up to 6 months. The woman reported the incidents to the doctors sending the facts, the mental hospital, and other relevant authorities like the police. She raised concerns about the faxes she was receiving in her spa establishment, but the concerned authorities did little to correct the mistake. This case brings into perspective laxity on the part of health care institutions in protecting patients’ medical information. An unauthorized person was having access to private information, and this constituted a serious breach of confidentiality whether it was taking place by mistake or not (Colbert, 2016). 

The last case shows that mental health care facilities have the obligation to protect personal health information in an effective manner. It is the responsibility of such facilities to ensure that all information obtained from their patients is protected from unauthorized access. There are different ways in which mental health care facilities can limit a breach of confidentiality thereby contravening the Health Information Act.  

References

Colbert, Y. (2016). Mental health records sent to Nova Scotia Spa in error over the last decade. CBS News.

Sibbald, S. (2016). Individuals convicted of an offense under the Health Information Act.Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta

The White House (2010). A New Patient’s Bill of Rights.

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