Incidential Disclosure of Protected Health Iformation

Deana Adams
HC 105 Medical Office Procedures and Administration
Week 1
Case Study

Incidental Disclosure

The Medical assistants must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that ensures a patients right to the privacy and confidentiality of their protected health information (PHI). This consideration and law should always be the center of ones thoughts when conducting any type of communication about a patient. There are times when a patient’s protected health information may be compromised without intention and cannot be reasonability prevented. Such is known as an incidental disclosure of a patient’s protected health information. Types of these violations to the patients’ rights are sometimes caused due to the structural environment where the infraction occurred. For example a relative visiting a family member in a semi- private room may overhear the physician talking to the patient in the next bed about their diagnoses or even a patient waiting to be examined might hear a conversation between a doctor and patient from the adjacent room. Although every medical professional tries to keep a patients PHI confidential, walls & curtains do not keep sound from traveling and unfortunately conversations can be over heard.
Another type of incidental disclosure of a patient’s PHI can occur when information about the patient is needed in order to serve them and as a result the patient’s PHI can become compromised. For example a patient may be asked to sign their name to a sign in sheet at their doctor’s office. This in turn allows others to view the names on the sign in sheet and read who is being seen by the doctor. Another example of this can also be seen in almost every hospital corridor where the patients name is posted just outside the patient’s room and anyone who walks up & down the hallways, whether staff members or visitors can view the names of patients that are in the hospital.
Unawareness of ones surroundings can...