A medical record or medical information includes from anything a patient has confided to their doctors to everything in the results of his diagnoses, medical tests, and treatment details. A medical record is prepared for each and every patient entering the doctor’s cabin; be it for common flu or higher level diseases. This medical information is shared by doctors and medical organizations, which is at times against the medical ethics. Forming detailed medical records privacy policies to prevent any misuse of patient’s personal information is the next challenging task for the government bodies.
Medical Billing ethics states that any sharing of patient’s medical information to others for any purpose other than medical treatment of the patient is believed to be violation of medical privacy policies. For individuals who have taken certain health and life insurances would have given access to respective insurance firms to their medical records which comes as an exception to the rule.
Why Medical Records are Necessary and What Information They Hold:
Medical records in past were stored in papered file format which has now shifted to electronic data being saved in computers and on servers online. Maintaining of proper medical records is necessary to keep a track of patient’s past health issues, drugs administered, effectiveness of respective drugs on the patient and also the side effects of the same if any on the patient.
Besides an individual’s health records, the medical records also store their personal information like marital relationship status, their sexual behavior and even in certain cases an individual’s personal thoughts and feelings in case of psychosomatic diseases. Such delicate information in linked to an individual’s Social Security Number quite often.
Effect of Medical Information on Other Aspects:
With increase in ease of handling these huge databases with technology, such medical records are increasingly shared easily by doctors with insurance companies and other institutions. This delicate information once shared with outside organizations can also affect one’s employment to bigger institutions, educational institutions. It can also affect the health insurance rates of an individual and also his or her personal credit getting capacity from the credit lending institutions.
Medical Privacy Policies and Its Violation:
With the increase in trend for outsourcing medical record transcripts the scope of violating the medical privacy policies and the patient-physician confidentiality has increased greatly as outer people get access to delicate and private patient information which can be leaked out easily. Below are some of the steps which should be taken by each and every individual to ensure their medical record’s privacy.
- They should protect the privacy of their SSN.
- They should disclose each and every detail required for perfect treatment to the physician but nothing else which would disclose their personal information which has no direct links to treatment of the diseases.
- They should ask the doctors whether their medical records will be accessed by anybody outside the healthcare office and if yes understand the purpose of accessing the information.
They should take necessary steps to ensure that before their personal medical records are passed on to the third party for review, like insurance companies; the records are properly reviewed by the patient.