Ethics and compliance in healthcare hippa
For healthcare practitioners, the code of ethics defines what is right, wrong, and bad decisions which cannot be implemented at the workplace. When an organization upholds a good code of ethics, their employees will strive for excellence and produce the best work at their workplace (Principles of Medical Ethics, 1995-2014). On the contrary, compliance refers to minimizing misconduct by abiding by the laws set to regulate professional conduct (Dubovitskaya et al. In the healthcare industry, healthcare practitioners are required to uphold the highest level of security and privacy when handling patients’ data. The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was passed into law by President Clinton to set standards on how healthcare professionals should manage and share a patient’s health records (Maradiegue, 2012).
Additionally, the HIPAA regulations do not prohibit medical practitioners from sharing information of the patient provided appropriate measures are put in place (The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017). In this case, appropriate measures depending on the situation in which the patient and the practitioners find themselves. Hence, medical practitioners find themselves on the crossroads of ethical conduct and compliance as to whether to adhere to the privacy rule or share necessary information within the treatment area to save a life if it was an emergency. The Federal officials have pointed out that “one size fits all scenario” when it comes to developing and implementing the ethics and compliance program is a fallacy (“The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014”).
Maradiegue (2012) posits that for healthcare organizations to comply with HIPAA regulations, it is essential for healthcare organizations to promote a culture which encourages the employees to adhere to ethical conduct and commitment to abide by the law. In this sense, compliance pertains to the law whereas ethics means doing right even when no one is watching (Maradiegue, 2012). In this case, the physician may have shared the information unknowingly. However, HIPAA regulations have provided how healthcare professions should communicate medical reports to individual patients without having third parties listening to the report (Maradiegue, 2012). For instance, in case the medical officer is giving a laboratory report after an examination, the officer may ask all people within the room to move out such that he or she can have ample time to communicate with the patient.
Alternatively, the practitioners may talk to the patient on low tones to avoid the other parties listening to the report. Since ethics involves doing the right thing even in the absence of the law, medical practitioners may at times compromise HIPAA regulations by exposing the patient’s health to other third parties either knowingly or unknowingly (Maradiegue, 2012). It should be concluded that changing something from moral responsibility to legal obligations does not make these laws any better since there is no apparent evidence that HIPAA regulations have forced healthcare professionals to consider how they share a patient’s personal health information. With these regards, healthcare practitioners should regard HIPAA regulations as supportive tools which guide them in judging and providing quality healthcare services to patients.
Although not every HIPAA regulation is grounded in ethical principles, however, it can be seen that the overall thrust is that HIPAA regulations are coherent with the ethical practice of healthcare practice. Hence, with this general alignment with the ethical practice, medical practitioners should give more attention to using good judgment in deciding how and why they should disclose a patient’s personal health data. Although it may be difficult to completely comply with the legal conformity of the HIPAA regulations, especially in the context of inadvertent disclosure and incidental disclosures, medical practitioners can collaborate with risk managers and practice administrators to create models which foster good communication in patient care. Dubovitskaya, A. , Xu, Z. , Ryu, S. , Schumacher, M. , & Wang, F.
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