Hipaa Law And The Confidentiality Of Medical Information
Know your rights
What is the HIPAA law?
It is a federal law of 1996 that is known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Its acronym (HIPAA) comes from the original title, which is “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”
This law establishes guidelines to protect the confidentiality and privacy of patient information and medical information.
To whom does the HIPAA Act apply?
- To all those entities that transmit electronically or store health information, such as:
- Most doctors, nurses, pharmacies, laboratories, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and many other healthcare providers
- Health insurers, health conservation organizations and most of the employers’ group health plans,
- Government programs that pay for medical care, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
What does the HIPAA Act require of health service providers?
- Health service providers must
- Guarantee the rights to patient privacy
- Adopt written privacy procedures that include: who has access to the protected information, how it will be used and when it will be disclosed;
- Ensure that business associates preserve the privacy of health information;
- Teach employees the provider’s privacy procedures and
- Appoint a privacy officer responsible for ensuring that security procedures are followed.
What is the protected health information?
It is defined as any health information that identifies the person referred (name, social security, etc.) and that is transmitted electronically or maintained on paper by an entity to which the HIPAA Law applies.
What are patient rights protected by this law?
You can request authorization to see your medical history and other information about your health. Also, you can receive a copy of it. It is possible that in some particular cases you cannot access all the data. In most cases, the copies must be given to you within 30 days, but in some cases, if there is a reason that justifies it, it can be extended for another 30 days. You may have to pay the costs of the copies and shipping if requested.
Correct information about your health
You can request that the wrong information in your file be modified, or that information is added if it is incomplete. For example, if a hospital and you agree that the result of an analysis that appears in your file is incorrect, the hospital must modify it. Even if the hospital considers that the result is correct, you have the right to have your disagreement included in the file.
Right to be notified about how your health information is used and shared
You have the right to know how your health provider or insurer uses and shares your health information. You must be given a notice stating how your health information will be used and shared and how you can exercise your rights. In most cases, you should receive notification at the first consultation with a provider or your health insurer will send it to you by mail. You can request a copy.