Unit 5 - Assignment
Instructor: Prof. Gayle Dickerson
Student: Nguyen Hoang
HI135: HIT II- Legal Aspects of Health Information
Date: January 13, 2015
According to McWay (2010), protected health information pertains to any information concerning the health status and the provision of health care for a specific person, and health care providers are “charged under the law with the obligation to maintain patient-specific health information in a confidential manner”. In addition, third parties are also allow to have access to patient-specific information if there is an appropriate request (McWay, 2010). This is according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the state laws and regulation that pertains the release of the protected health information. The HIPAA privacy rule sets limits that are explicit for the persons that are in a position to access the protected heath information for patients without the consent of the patients (McWay, 2010).
According to HIPPA privacy law, third parties, who may be strangers to patient, also have a right to access the patient health information if they have a valid authorization to release the record. Examples of third parties that will need authorization to access patient information are patient’s employer, attorney, insurance company, or even a member of the patient’s family (unless the member has been appointed as a durable power of attorney for health care). In some cases, third party may be able to access the patient information even without the authorization. Examples are accredited and licensed agencies and a court may “grant access to patient records in a lawsuit upon a finding of good cause” (McWay, 2010). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent is an individual who is responsible for the investigative purpose and in the agency of internal intelligence where he or she investigates crimes in the United States (FBI - About Us, n.d.). Therefore, an FBI agent with a search warrant is an authorized user who has consent for the release of protected health care information since he is a person who is in the law enforcement agency. Law enforcement is usually entitled to the health records once it has been asserted that they are looking for the health records of a suspect or a victim of a crime. As the head of the health information management department, I would allow the FBI agent to have access to the health information and records of the General hospital for purposes of investigation. As for the patient, it is unnecessary to notify them that their health care records has been disclosed to a government agency. According to McWay (2010), individuals are not given the opportunity of knowing that their health records were needed by the law enforcement officer. This is because the individuals concerned will get a chance to challenge the infringement of the privacy concerns of their health records. The Patriot Act requires that the health care providers and the ones responsible for the health information management to deter from telling any other person that a Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained the health records. However, the patients should be made aware that the government has power to the disclosure of their health records for the purpose of different law enforcement purposes. Through this, it will not result to any conflict with the patients once they realize that their health records were disclosed.
McWay, D. (2010). Legal and Ethical Aspects of Health Information Management, 3rd Edition. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar.