Is your medical information really confidential even with HIPAA laws?
Posted in the Springfield Forum
#1 Oct 17, 2013
When someone visits the doctor’s office for any reason, they probably think that any information they reveal is kept confidential. After all, patient confidentiality is governed by the Office of Civil Rights through and Act known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). But the truth is that a patients’ medical information is not always kept as private as you may think.
Recently a receptionist at Porter Medical Center in the OB/GYN office revealed information to me regarding a friend of mine. At the time, the staff member and I were dating and upon learning that I was friends with one the patients at her office, she inquired about my history with the patient. When I was reluctant to share details about our level of friendship, I was informed by the staff member that my friend had a sexually transmitted disease. This information should not have been shared openly and the fact that it was shared so nonchalantly was shocking. How can a member of the medical profession disclose personal information regarding a patient when she had sworn an oath of confidentiality? In addition to the oath of confidentiality, I would have expected her desire to maintain confidentiality to be even higher as one of her own mother is a similar carrier. This free disclosure of information has made me question the confidentiality of my own medical information. Can I trust that my health care provider is not sharing information about me at the dinner table with their family or gossiping with a group of friends?
HIPAA was implemented for a very good reason: to protect the rights and confidentiality of every person who enters a doctor’s office. It allows patients to be completely honest with their provider to help obtain the best results possible. Without it, people might choose to conceal information about them for fear that the information would become common knowledge and potentially damaging to their personal life or their career. If you feel your medical information has not been kept private in any way, please do not hesitate to contact the OCR at www.hhs.gov/ocr and follow the link for “How to File a Complaint”. Also be sure to contact the Compliance or HIPAA office at the hospital or provider where the violation occurred.“Speaking out” is the only way to ensure that HIPAA is taken seriously and that violations will not be tolerated.
#2 Oct 22, 2013
I would like to provide an update on this event. The incident was reported to the administration at Porter and was basically swept under the rug due to "lack of evidence" and denial on the employees part. The receptionist still works at the OB/GYN office and has been given no form of disciplinary action.
What does this say about how serious Porter views HIPAA? I doubt you can trust that your personal medical information is not being shared when you visit that office?
#3 Dec 25, 2013
If you do not feel that Porter addressed this appropriately, you can report the case to the Office of Civil Rights. If this is indeed what happened, this is a very blatant violation and should be reported. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complain...
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