December 16, 2013
Abortion and Privacy Rights
The subject of abortion as stated in On the Issues Magazine (winter, 2012) is not only an ethical decision, but it may effect the decision-making process in the use of electronic health records. When a young woman seeks an abortion that information is held in her medical records. If electronic records are shared by all of the patient’s doctors and administrators, a privacy issue and ethical dilemma may be created. Within this paper, an ethical dilemma concerning abortion and electronic medical records, and specifically the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) will be discussed. The author will specifically discuss how a woman having an abortion may be jeopardized by the use of electronic medical records. Healthcare training in regards to HIPAA will be discussed, as well as, what lawmakers can do to ensure privacy protection in the medical field. Patient Privacy and Ethical Concerns
A patient may not want all of her physicians and their administrators to know that she has aborted her child. Young women who are seeking an abortion have a right to have that information kept private if they so choose. The push in the medical community is for all medical records to be done electronically. This is creating serious privacy and ethical concerns for some patients. A patient could be in an abusive relationship or be working in a sensitive work environment (i.e. Catholic School). Private health information such as, having an abortion, could jeopardize her safety or her job. Sharing of demographic information may also threaten some patients. According to Carey (2012), “Electronic records can lead to threats to the patient privacy, including the potential for security breach, misuse of information, and loss of the patient control over confidential and sensitive health information” (para. 2).
One possible solution to an ethical dilemma of shared electronic medical records is that the patient be given the right to shield certain information. Confidentiality between a patient and the doctor is paramount in ensuring that the patient seek out appropriate and safe medical care and that he or she will be honest, and open with his or her doctor. Patients who fear that his or her medical records are not private may lose faith in the health care system or his or her doctor. The fear that many patients have is that electronic medical records can be infiltrated. This is a well- founded concern. When demographic information is included in any records, the patient can be put at risk (Carey, 2012). The need for sharing medical records is widely understood, but the privacy factor may create an ethical dilemma for some patients. HIPAA has to ensure that the department of Health and Human Service takes on the standards of electronic medical records. The HIPAA regulations have to be implemented to give the individual protection in regard to his or her health information. It starts with the standardized formats for storing and sharing patient’s medical records. Under HIPAA, safeguards must be implemented, which include applying penalties to employees who do not follow the security procedures. Responding and identifying violations help the privacy of patients. The standards of HIPAA are to design and to protect the privacy of individual health information. The HIPAA document demands the simplification of the administration of health care coverage and explains federal abuse prevention in federal health care programs (Steward, 2005).
Health Care Training in Regards to HIPAA
Those personnel that are entering health care information need to be trained and monitored as to the types of information recorded, and the appropriateness of that information being included in electronic medical records. According to Carey