April 2nd, 2009Lewiston Morning TribuneC/O: Letter to the EditorP.O. Box 957Lewiston, ID 83501Re: HIPAA RegulationsTo whom it may concern: Just recently someone visited the Doctors office and received a packet disclosing important information regarding their play in who has access to their medical records. The packet states that, “A policy was made regarding personal health disclosure (policies pg. 1). What exactly does that mean? Regarding to the Notice of Privacy and Practices it states, “Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) medical centers must take steps to protect the privacy of your “protected health information” (PHI)” (policies pg 1). With medical facilities informing their patient of the HIPAA regulations it is a very comforting procedure knowing that precautions are being taken to ensure less chances of identity theft and the release of personal health information. When a patient goes into a medical facility at the time of service they are given the HIPPA paperwork. This is where they have the opportunity to write who they want to have access to their medical records and who they would like contacted in case of an emergency. Medical facilities must obtain written authorization for the release of medical records in certain situations (policies pg. 2). The Notice of Privacy states that you have the right to request restrictions (tell us how much information can be given to someone involved in your care), ask that we communicate with you by another means (ask to be reached at a different address for certain reasons, will need to be done in writing), request a copy of you PHI, ask us to amend PHI, seek an accounting of certain disclosures (list of the times information has been disclosed) and request a copy of this notice (policies pg. 4). However, most patients do not realize that they may change who has access to their medical records at any time. The Notice of Privacy Practices states that medical facilities do not need patient authorization when it comes to professionals involved in your health care also, towards those who you may be transferred to regarding care for that specific matter. This policy states that payments towards you health coverage does not need authorization for insurance companies. When the medical facility is required by law they may information workers’ compensation laws included. When a situation of abuse or neglect occurs government entities are authorized to receive reports. Oversight agencies are those who perform investigations, audits, and inspections licensures may have access to those if circumstances arise. The policy states that legal proceedings may have access in response to an order, a subpoena, discovery request, or unlawful process. The law enforcement officials have limited circumstances to when a disclosure may be released, such as, to identify or locate a suspect, witness, or missing person. The policy states that military activity and national security may be authorized regarding federal officials for national security and intelligence, also being able to do their job at protecting somebody. The policy also states that public health and safety may be authorized to have access to medical records to take the following precautions: track prescription drugs, medical devices, control diseases, injury etc (policies pg. 2 entire paragraph). Due to the federal law here in Idaho at the age of fourteen the patient has the right to state who has access to their medical records. Having experienced certain situations in the medical field it has been displayed that parents do not agree with this new regulation. When the occasion arises when the teen needs to fill out a new HIPAA the parent becomes very distressed, especially, at the fact that they are the ones who have to pay the bill but aren’t allowed to know anything that happens in the back office unless the patient states otherwise. However, most of the teens are relieved to know that they have the option to keep certain things to themselves. With the way that society has changed over the years it is probably a relief to know that they can come into a medical facility and not have to fear their parents finding out what may be in their medical records. I am a strong believer of the HIPAA. It is very comforting to know that I am able to State, who has access to my medical records and personal information. However, I do understand the parents’ feelings in regards to their teens being able to decide who can and can’t have access to their medical records at the age of fourteen. I myself would want to know if something was wrong with my daughter if I have to pay the bill. There must be a reason that she doesn’t want me to know, does she know she did something wrong, is she ashamed or scared? I don’t know but, if that teen does need help, I feel that they’ll open up and come ask for help. Most situations in the medical facility are confidential; however, situations may arise where that confidentially may be broken. Things are kept to a minimal in medical facilities in regards to how much needs and can be given.
Notice of Privacy Practices and Practice Policies. Valley Medical Center: Lewiston, ID,
Effective April 14th, 2003.