maintaining confidentiality in the healthcare office

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is a security measure to preserve the confidentiality of medical records and standardized electronic data interchange (EDI) among providers, insurers, and government agencies. Ethics are a set of principles relating to what is morally right or wrong. Ethics gives a standard of conduct or code of behavior. Talking about what happened to a patient or who the patient is, is breaking the confidentiality contract. When you enter a health occupation, learn the code of ethics and ALWAYS remember confidentiality. It should always be on your mind.

Make every effort to abide by the code so as to become a competent and ethical health care worker. It is important to be sincere, honest, and caring. Treat others, as you want to be treated. Show respect and concern for the feelings, dignity, and rights of others. Some examples of maintaining confidentiality in a medical setting are: As a biller and coder (or any healthcare worker for that matter) use caution when dealing with patients records. Do not leave files lying around, close down computer programs while not at your desk, and do not speak about patients while others might be in ear shot.

Hold your colleagues as accountable as you hold yourself when it comes to respecting patient privacy. If you are hearing a conversation between two care providers in the elevator or the hospital shuttle, politely ask them to please continue their discussion in a private area. Be a privacy mentor to students just starting out in the profession. Explain to them the importance of confidentiality and why. Stand up to peer pressure when friends or neighbors ask you to do a favor by obtaining for them copies of their records or copies of a family member’s records.

Always get written authorization and follow proper procedure. In many organizations, failure to follow proper procedures regarding release of information may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or suspension of privileges. If in doubt when releasing health information to patients, confer with your health information services department or privacy office for advice and assistance. There are guidelines in place to help reduce risk for you and the hospital while meeting patients’ needs — know and use these guidelines.

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