The Privacy Rule was designed to give people the right to access their health information while setting limits and regulations on who can access their information. It was also created to preserve protected health information (PHI) by offering patients sufficient control over their health details (Beaver &Herold, 2004, p. 50). Additionally, the rule sets limits on the use and preference of health details and people who violate the rights are held responsible.
Patients have the right to complain with their service providers whenever their right to health information is denied. People should additionally be free to learn about their rights from their providers. The primary goal of the Privacy Rule is to ensure the health information of people is well protected thus ensuring proper flow of health information for quality health care and protection of public wellbeing and health (Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, 2003, p. 1).
Similarly, the rule applies to all health covers and for any provider who wishes to make public health information via electric form as the HHS secretary advises. Nurses, doctors, hospitals and other healthcare facilities must stick to the rule. Government department that deal with healthcare including Medicare and Medicaid must also observe the Privacy Rule.
Some of the information that the rule protects include details that healthcare providers, nurses and doctors indicate on medical record of a patient. Additionally, the rule protects any conversation between a patient and a health care provider presently and in the past. Other service providers may have details of a patient therefore; Privacy Rule expects that such information is protected.
If a patient finds out that his or her PHI is not complete or accurate, the person can request for correct details under the Privacy Rule (Klosek, 2009, p.6). To ensure the information of a patient is protected, the information should be used only when the patient is undergoing treatment or when a relative or a family member is familiar with the need for the details.
However, a person has the right to prevent family members from accessing the information. The Privacy Rule also calls for minimum necessary access to private health information (Beaver & Herold, 2004, p. 42). In the event of a disease outbreak, the information can also be shared especially in areas prone to cholera or flu.
It is therefore essential to note that only a protected entity can disclose private health information to a person who is subject of the treatment details, payments and related healthcare activities (Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, 2003, p. 5). Unless the rule allows a person’s PHI to be shared, a healthcare provider cannot under any circumstance share the details for advertisement purposes or share with the patient’s employer.
A person can also authorize PHI disclosure in writing. A healthcare provider cannot also share the notes of a patient’s mental health counselling meetings. Therefore, the Privacy Rule should be well kept to ensure that every person enjoys the rights of keeping his or her health information a secret, in addition to enabling flow of information to enhance healthcare.
Beaver, K., & Herold, R. (2004). The practical guide to HIPAA privacy and security compliance. Boca Raton: Auerbach Publications.
Klosek, J. (2011). Protecting your health privacy: A citizen’s guide to safeguarding the security of your medical information. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.
Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule (2003). United States Department of health and Human Services, OCR Privacy Rule Summary. Retrieved on 22 February 2014 from http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/summary/privacysummary.pdf