The current discussion focuses on the case when a woman shows up at the clinic and wants to know whether her supposed brother, George, comes to his appointments and questions about his medications. In this case, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines provide the social worker with specific responsibilities. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services (n.d.), the social worker should ensure that a person’s protected health information is not used or disclosed inappropriately. The term protected health information refers to a person’s physical or mental health, details of provision of health care, and payment details (US Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.). Consequently, social workers should do their best to guarantee that unauthorized individuals or entities cannot access this information.
The woman who is making an inquiry about her brother has a moral right to obtain this information because she wants to help her relative. However, there is a difference between moral and legal rights. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services (n.d.), the woman can obtain the required data if the male patient left a written authorization that allowed the social worker to disclose the personal details. The social worker can also receive indirect permission from the male patient to disclose his health information to third parties (US Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.). Consequently, prior to providing the woman with the information, I would check whether the male patient authorized disclosing his information to anyone.
There is no doubt that HIPAA provides patients with specific rights, and George is no exception. He is entitled to request his own protected health information (US Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.). Simultaneously, George can give informal permission to disclose his details to specified individuals (US Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.). To avoid any privacy issues and safeguard the patient’s information, I would ask him in advance whether he allows for disclosing his data to any third parties.
In conclusion, it is reasonable to describe my responsibilities to protect clients’ information. Firstly, it is necessary to find in advance whether a patient authorizes disclosing health information to other people or entities. Secondly, it is prohibited to disclose these data without checking whether the appropriate authorization or informal permission was given. Thirdly, it is also reasonable to stay in touch with the client to determine whether they have changed their mind concerning their protected health data. I can suggest that following these tips can help me avoid legal issues and safeguard patients’ information.
Harman, L. B., Flite, C. A., & Bond, K. (2012). Electronic health records: Privacy, confidentiality, and security. Virtual Mentor, 14(9), 712-719. Web.
Myers, R. K. (2009). The fundamentals of HIPAA. Privacy, security and electronic data transfer in clinical settings: What we need to know. Clinical Social Work Association. Web.
US Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Summary of the HIPAA privacy rule. Web.