Breaches Of Doctor Patient Confidentiality

The relationship between a doctor and a patient should be built on trust and mutual respect. The doctor must trust the patient to follow his or her orders, and the patient must trust the doctor to give him or her the best possible care. The patient must respect the doctor's opinions and recommendations, while the doctor must respect the patient's personal needs and beliefs. To build and maintain this mutual level of trust and respect, doctors and patients must adhere to a certain level of confidentiality. Individuals must be encouraged to seek medical assistance or advice without any hindrance, fear, or concern that their rights will be violated or personal information will be disclosed to anyone.

During a medical examination, a doctor requires a lot of personal information from the patient to properly form a diagnosis of the patient's health. The doctor may form his own opinion about the patient based on the information received and assessment made. The doctor, though, no matter what he or she assumes, must maintain patient confidentiality on all medical records, including patient's x-rays, lab work and reports. The physician must communicate with the patient and staff concerning illness, symptoms and diagnosis, and must ensure that everyone understands the necessity of keeping everything inside the doctor's office.

In certain cases, physicians are allowed to share patient information with other organizations. However, there are usually very tight restrictions on this, and the outside organization is generally required to keep the information confidential themselves. For example, if a physician is seeking information from health insurance companies to submit claims for the cost of care, the physician must sometimes release certain information to the insurance companies about the patient. Doctors are also required to report any child abuse seen after patient's visit. Reporting certain communicable diseases to the Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization is also expected from a doctor. Additionally, in any case where a patient sues a doctor for medical malpractice, the patient's medical records can be subpoenaed by a medical malpractice lawyer, in which case they must be released.

Confidentiality is the duty of the doctor and all medical personnel and staff in the doctor's office, even after the patient stops being treated by that particular doctor. The doctor cannot give information to any third party except in certain cases of authorized disclosure, as discussed above. Any disclosure that is unauthorized may have a detrimental effect on a patient – employers might treat the patient unfairly if they know of a certain medical condition, or a patient might simply be embarrassed if certain personal information is released. This can harm the doctor-patient relationship, resulting in a drop in trust and respect. In the long run, this can hurt everyone – it can mean a poor reputation for a doctor and a lower likelihood of seeking important medical attention for the patient.

The use of advanced technology in the medical field, health care administration, and biomedical research systems has created new difficulties in the safekeeping and privacy of a patient's medical records. New technology has made medical records accessible through computerized systems – electronic transmissions are passed to and from medical personnel through computer links and among health providers making the confidentiality process much more difficult to maintain. If a medical practice is using these types of record-keeping and reporting systems, it's still the physician's responsibility to do everything in their power to ensure the safety and confidentiality of patient records. Secure servers, computers, and file storage systems must be maintained and updated so that patient data does not fall into the wrong hands.

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