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Dealing with unauthorized access to private information

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There are many ways that confidentiality, privacy, and respect can be violated on campus and in practice. It can be as simple as faculty having a conversation about a student , or interns discussing a patient, that is overheard. It can also be complicated. For instance, electronic storage of patient files that are stolen and sold.

How would you handle one of these situations? Please respond to one of the following scenarios.

Your front desk staff was talking about a patient with a friend during lunch and the patient or friend of the patient overheard.
Your intern classmate was describing his patient's physical attributes in detail in the intern lounge.
You catch a patient flipping though another patient's chart that was left on the counter in the treatment room.
The wife of your patient calls to get information on her husband's condition and your staff oblige.
You faxed patient files to the wrong number.
You are an intern and one of the lower term faculty members asks you about a student you are treating in the clinic.
A faculty member accidentally sends a grade report to the wrong student.

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Solution Summary

Several examples of release of private or confidential material is examined to determine the best course of action to rectify the situation. Web references provided.

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Access to private information regarding a patient or research participant comes with the responsibility of safeguarding this confidential information. Confidential information can include information including a person's medial history, current treatments, and identity. See the US Department of Health and Human Services for more information about HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/). Following proper HIPPA protocols requires education and enforcement of standards in line with HIPPA regulations.

Let's look at the individual cases:
1. Your front desk staff was talking about a patient with a friend during lunch and the patient or friend of the patient overheard.
In this case you would need to speak to your front desk staff about maintaining patient confidentiality even in casual conversation. You would also need to speak with the patient ...

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