As a health care provider, I know that it is unethical to give patient information without asking first the consent of the patient and the Health Protection and Affordability Act (HIPAA) regulation was designed to allow Americans to take health insurance coverage when they changed jobs provided that medical information are kept confidential (Gross, 2007, 1). Thus, information are essentially withheld even from relatives if expressed consent is not obtained.
With the occurrence of event like this, I’ve come to analyze the HIPAA regulation system and found out that most of the health care practitioners, including me, misinterpreted the HIPAA regulation. Under the privacy rule of this act, a health care provider may disclose medical information directly related to patient care or corresponding payments to a family member, relatives, close personal friend, or any person identified by the patient without needing a consent form, provided that the patient does not object to the disclosure of information (Gross, 2007, 3). Thus, it has increased my knowledge and understanding that HIPAA regulation may allow sharing of information to family members or identified individuals without a signed consent.
Despite corrections of misconceptions regarding privacy rule of HIPAA regulation, some health care providers and clinicians still requires the use of a signed consent form in disclosing patient’s medical information in fear of possible litigation. As a health care provider, I think that it is better to implement disclosing of information standards strictly rather than regret the consequences of actions. I understand the fear of litigation. however, as members of the health care team, we are all health care advocates and change agents. We promote the common good of our patient by ensuring delivery of quality health care and satisfying health practitioner-patient relationship.