HIPAA has long been the forerunner in advocating patients’ privacy rights. There is a companion HIPPA Fast Fact Sheet that lays out patient privacy rights and the laws concerning them. Another good overview of the laws and practices governing patient confidentiality is the AMA: Patient Confidentiality website.
The biggest problems in protecting patient rights seem to stem from inattentiveness to the procedures laid out in HIPAA. The most common means of dealing with this problem include higher severity for rule-breakers, regular reminders of these punishments, and conducting compliance reviews, all of which are outlined in the HIPAA Enforcement Procedures section of the Cal HIPAA website.
Dr. Miguel Faria, in his report on patient privacy and confidentiality lays attributions to the problem directly on the three branches of our government who he says are “making a mockery of patient record confidentiality and the privacy (and trust) of the patient-doctor relationship.”
Additionally, many sources, including a report from The Milbank Quarterly Evaluating the Quality of Medical Care, show a current trend toward viewing patient information as public property. These views are backed up in the current reports and efforts for change in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).
The most recent advances in handling patient privacy have come with the advent of computerized medical information. However, the effectiveness of this technique is yet to be seen, and many potential pitfalls have been examined. In particular, The Health Law Resource detailed a report on this issue and its capabilities.
Furthermore, the Patient Privacy & Network Protection file gives a view into an individual program and its components. This brief report outlines solutions to handling medical information correctly and the benefits for their specific program.
- The Health Privacy Project
- “The State of Health Privacy: An Uneven Terrain” (Health Privacy Project, 7/99)
- Best Principles for Health Privacy (Health Privacy Project, July 20, 1999) This report details the steps that should be taken to ensure the privacy of medical records. The Health Privacy Working Group is staffed by the Health Privacy Project from Georgetown University’s Institute for Health Care Research and Policy and funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
- Federal Research: Peer Review Practices at Federal Science Agencies Vary
- Joint Commission and National Committee of Quality Assurance Issue Call to Protect Patient Privacy (NCQA, 11/98)
- Government and Commercial Use of the Social Security Number.
- Medical Record Privacy (Electronic Privacy Center)
- Medical Records, Privacy and Confidentiality (William L. Manning links)
- Medical Records Privacy: Uses and Oversight of Patient Information
- Medical Records Privacy: Access Needed for Health Research
- Model Addressing Health Privacy Issues Adopted by State Insurance Regulators (The National Association of Insurance Commissioners 9/14/98)
- Electronic Freedom Foundation. Genetic Information Privacy
- Electronic Freedom Foundation. Medical Privacy
- Electronic Freedom Foundation. The Law and Medical Privacy
- Electronic Freedom Foundation. National Security and Medical Information