BY: WENDY DESSLER
Privacy of any kind is a basic and fundamental human right that must be respected at all times. Unfortunately, it wasn’t recognized before 1948. Still, in many parts of the world, patients aren’t given any health privacy at all.
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated equal rights for all the members that fall under the human species.
Now that there are new medical advancements and medical device prototyping that help medical professionals come up with ways to cure various diseases, it has now become even more critical to realize that health privacy is the right of every patient.
Let’s take a look at what any person is entitled to by law under health privacy rights.
Ways In Which You Can Use Your Health Privacy As A Human Right
- You have the right to remain silent if approached by any person outside of the hospital staff, who includes even visitors and anyone else who isn’t directly responsible for looking after your health.
- You have the right to wear whatever you feel comfortable in, be it jewelry or clothing unless this doesn’t interfere with your medical procedures and diagnostic treatments.
- You have the right to have a physical exam or checkup in a private place that allows for reasonable audio and visual privacy. You can also choose the examiner of your gender for certain intrusive or more personal examinations.
- You have the right to discuss your health issues without the presence of another party or other people who aren’t involved in your medical treatment unless you’re underage.
- You have the right to get your personal and medical care records read and followed up only by individuals who are directly related to providing healthcare facilities to you. Others can read or organize your records only if you’ve authorized them in writing.
- If you want your billing information to remain strictly confidential, you can use this right to obtain health privacy.
- You can expect any news of your medical treatment to be given only to friends or family members whom you’ve authorized in complete confidentiality without the presence of any third-party.
- If you feel that your privacy is being disturbed by other patients around you, you can request permission to move your location. In case there is any issue of protection and personal safety involved, you have the right to being assigned a secret or fake identity.
- As stated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), there is federal protection offered for the limitation on health records being shared and used. The patient plays a vital role in allowing who can access their health information.
It states that privacy protection can be applied to information that can be used to identify a person, meaning:
- Information associated with the past, present, and future conditions (both mental and physical) of a person’s health.
- Information that can easily help identify a person as a certain individual.
Here is a list of those who are required to honor HIPAA:
- Anyone associated with the field of medical care such as doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics, pharmacies, nursing homes, and other such providers of healthcare.
- Various employer group health plans.
- Some programs sponsored by the government.
- Any health provider with arrangements to any third parties with whom you’re required to share your health information.
Some Ways Through Which Your Health Care Information Can Be Shared And Used
To stay healthy without distressing or interrupting your privacy, your information can be shared only in the following situations:
- It’s impertinent for your treatment and care, meaning a doctor can see what tests you have had along with their results so that they don’t have to be done again.
- You’re required to make payment for your medical treatment.
- You’re seeking best medical care due to which various healthcare professionals need to know about your medical history.
- You need immediate protection from medical diseases in case there is an outbreak of a contagious disease in your locality.
In the above-mentioned scenarios, your health care provider isn’t obliged to get permission from you in terms of disclosing your medical information to those who can directly help you achieve better health.
Can I Control Who Sees Or Uses My Health Information?
There are some conditions under which you still maintain hold of who can see, use, or share your personal health information
Here are a few examples:
- It cannot be given to your employer to be used for advertising or sales, or any other purpose unless you’ve given permission through an authorized piece of writing. This must include those getting your information and what they’re allowed to use it for. This isn’t the same as the form you sign for the hospital that lets them use and share your medical information.
- In general, health care providers or medical practitioners cannot share their own personal notes related to your mental health unless you authorize them to.
- You have every right to restrict your healthcare providers from sharing your information with specific groups or companies. If you visit a clinic and ask your consulting doctor to not share your information with other doctors and nurses of the same clinic, then they must oblige.
However, a clinic may not always agree to this because sometimes a doctor may need consulting with another doctor in order to decide how best to proceed with your treatment.
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/hand-man-bitcoin-keep-present-2308932/
Wendy is a super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.
© 2017, Linda Girgis MD. All rights reserved.