Protected Health Information Sample Paper

Protected health information (PHI) refers to the healthcare information create, transmitted, received, and stored by organizations covered by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on safeguarding the patient to promote integrity, confidentiality and to ensure the availability of health information (Kruse et al. 2017). Within the context of HIPAA, PHI links the past, present, and future physical and mental health data electronically maintained and transmitted. Furthermore, PHI information entails other healthcare aspects such as laboratory results, medical histories, insurance coverage, and demographic data useful in-patient identification.

Important HIPAA information

HIPAA information is important to both patients and healthcare organizations. It safeguards patient privacy by securing their private health information (HIPAA, 2015). Moreover, HIPAA reduces healthcare costs and covers healthcare employees through electronic data transmission and financial transaction standardization. Through HIPAA information, hospital organizations have been able to adopt electronic copies from paper records, thereby streamlining functions and enhancing healthcare efficiency (Vora et al. 2018). More importantly, HIPAA has ensured that healthcare providers, health plans, and clearing houses protect and safeguard sensitive and private patient information.

Confidentiality, security, and privacy

The concept of confidentiality is related with privacy and security and has been touted as a tool for privacy protection. According to Chenthara et al (2018), the main reason for security, confidentiality and privacy is to ensure that patient information is only used for the purpose that is intended and indicated in patient content. The HIPAA Act of 1996 stipulates that a patient’s health information can only be disclosed with their consent (Price, 2018). Therefore, it is vital for patients to sign a consent form after reading it, so that they make an informed decision to allow the sharing of their health information. But HIPAA also provides for certain special conditions during which the patient data can be shared without their consent. Such conditions may include during health oversight activities, compensation processes or when prompted by a court of law.

Inappropriate use of social media

Several nurses have been terminated in the US due to inappropriate use of social media. These terminations have occurred because of the accused accessing patient information without the patient’s consent and or without any legitimate reason (Enaizan et al. 2020). Another typical example is when a nurse colleague takes a video of a nurse while in labour to mock her, or a nurse taking the picture of a patient while undergoing an electrocardiogram procedure (Vora et al. 2018).  All these cases violate the HIPAA Act and can lead to both sanctions and heavy fines. This explains why all healthcare teams must be aware of privacy and confidentiality when handling patient information.

Consequences and Sanctions

There are serious consequences and sanctions for medical service providers who irrelevantly share patient information on their social media handles. The HIPAA Act requires healthcare professionals to only share the relevant patient information through the Medicare system. therefore, healthcare organizations must assess the viability of what information the public can receive through social media. This is because sharing patient information through social media undermines their privacy and integrity.

The HIPAA Act provides heavy fines and penalties for any violation of patient privacy guidelines. While the penalties depend on the severity of violation, a penalty could be as high as $50,000. Therefore, HIPAA has suggested various evidence-based strategies for maintaining patient privacy. For example, HIPAA requires every organization to provide for a privacy officer whose main responsibility is to ensure that the organization fulfils HIPAA privacy requirements. The privacy officer oversees the implementation of HIPAA privacy standards and trains staff on maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality.


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