Confidentiality of health information is about keeping information concerning the patient with securely, so that it should not be disclosed to any other person without the patient’s express authority. Personal health records include all information concerning a patient which is both on paper and on computerized system.
A lot of people believe that information concerning their health is very sensitive, hence require strong protection that has to be given by the law In many states protection has come from long-time laws and the old convention of patient- doctor privilege, which have been mainly used to protect health records for many years. (Campbell, 2000, pp 65-68)
Today, there in an increased need for confidentiality of patient’s information, fear of lack of confidentiality from the patient reduces the patient’s frankness; this can lead to compromising the health care quality. Where as many patients have a big concern about the confidentiality of their records, and many are wronged by leaks caused by the health providers, most people still have trust with the health providers.
Campbell (2000, pp 65-68) states that, health records should be kept confidential in order for patients or people to develop confidence and trust which is important for medical relationship among the health providers and the consumers. People are entitled to get health service with the knowledge that the information concerning them will be kept confidential by the service providers. However, there are some instances that that information may be disclosed. (Campbell, 2000, pp 65-68)
How information is used
Currently, health care providers can, collect, collate, store, analyze and distribute health care records of an individual, this can be done in unprecedented magnitudes and used in diverse ways. As Lewis, et al. (2005, pp 36-41) notes, insurance firms not only do they get patient information for payments of claims, but, also use it in reviewing decisions about coverage and underwriting decisions.
Employers use the health information in reducing the health care costs and workers compensation expenses, at the same time the use the information to assess and identify workers who could become costly in terms of health care in future. On the other hand, health care providers do use the information in doing research, so as to collect reimbursement, organize treatment and diagnosis, and undertake quality assurance measures and use the information top monitor other health care providers (Lewis, et al. 2005, pp 36-41).
It is thus, important that health information about patients needs to be kept with confidentiality in order to avoid the information from being misused by certain persons or organizations. (Lewis, et al. 2005, pp 36-41)
Control of information
In order to ensure that the information is kept confidentially, the laws allows people aged 14 and over to control the discharge of their medical records, if at all the do understand the way the documents are. For those who are below age 14, their parents controls any release of their health records. In a case a person is adjudicated or is incapacitated then the guardian of such a person controls the release of the medical records. In case of a deceased person, an administrator or any other person chosen by the deceased will give permission. (Lewis, et al. 2005, pp 36-41)
Circumstances where a consumer is denied access to health records
There are circumstances that can lead to person being denied access to his/her own health records. The consumer may be denied access to health records without review when (1); the health records were arranged in expectation of legal action against the consumer. Or (2), if the records are for a prison, and that prison authorities decides that releasing of the health records would endanger the safety, security or health of the consumer, a prison staff or another inmate.
In other cases a consumer may be denied a request to access his/her records subject to assessment by another health care expert chosen by the consumer’s provider. This will be if the provider decides that giving the information to the consumer will most likely endanger the safety and life of the consumer or of another person. Or, if the records deals with another individual and the health provider decides that disclosing the information, will most likely lead to substantial damage to that individual. (Rada, 2003, pp 45-50)