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Prescriptions, in this case, can only be signed by licensed physicians. Nurses are limited in signing orders and prescriptions, and this responsibility firmly rests with authorized users to prevent insurance identity theft.
The disadvantages of protecting patient information emerge when authorized users and healthcare professionals misuse their access, potentially lying or stealing patient information. They may use patients’ names, social security numbers, addresses, and insurance numbers to claim medical charges fraudulently from insurance companies. With over 80 years of experience, the Health Information Management (HIM) professionals and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) are staunch believers in the importance of patient confidentiality, privacy, and security. They have set goals to protect patients’ rights while promoting training for healthcare professionals and coders, who are expected to meet the highest training and expectation standards.
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AHIMA recommends building trust between patients and healthcare professionals by implementing robust security measures in electronic health records and personal health records. This enhances communication channels and access to information. They educate patients about using electronic health records, ensuring they understand their rights and the sensitivity of their information to others around them. AHIMA enforces the principle of patient responsibility in not sharing their personal health information and maintains that information should always be readily accessible to patients while respecting the rights of individuals and privacy where information is stored and transferred.
AHIMA works to protect individuals from discriminatory practices that could result from deliberate misuse of information. Patient confidentiality, privacy, security, and safety laws are rigorously enforced, and those who break or ignore these laws may face serious penalties and even incarceration for their offenses. AHIMA advises all employees to safeguard their passwords, to use privacy glass where necessary, and to leverage information security technologies such as firewalls and encryption. This provides security against potential breaches, ensuring the data system is less vulnerable to hacking. AHIMA emphasizes that electronic health records can aid high-quality patient care provision and support informed decision-making, and it believes that providers, insurers, and patients have a shared responsibility to safeguard healthcare data.
AHIMA provides a code of ethics and standard of ethics to guide coding professionals. It ensures the accessibility and integrity of health information, and according to patient confidentiality standards, the AHIMA code of ethics dictates that all members act ethically and comply with all relevant laws, regulations, and standards governing HIM practice. As professionals, they are expected to update continually their knowledge base and skills through continuing education and lifelong learning. Health information technologists and managers are encouraged to promote high standards of HIM practice, education, and research; they are tasked with promoting and protecting the confidentiality and security of health records and information.
The HIM staff works closely within health records and must, therefore, abide by the HIPAA which requires that patients’ health records are kept safe, confidential, and secure. Core health information issues include what information should be collected, how the information should be handled, who should have access to the information, under what conditions the information should be disclosed, how patient information is retained, when it is no longer needed, and how it should be disposed of confidentially. Health information is managed in compliance with state and federal regulations, as well as employer policies and procedures, to ensure all patient information is kept confidential.
The main purpose of the AHIMA Code of Ethics is to promote high standards of practice among coders and HIM professionals, identify core values upon which the HIM mission is based, summarize broad ethical principles to guide decision-making, and manage actions as HIM professionals handle a large volume of sensitive data in a wide variety of settings. The principles and guidelines of the AHIMA Code of Ethics serve to protect the privacy and confidentiality of all information. Healthcare facilities, providers, and professionals must understand the rules regarding the release of the minimum necessary information to authorized persons only. They must also respond promptly to patient requests and ensure the confidentiality of information transmitted to other parties or disposed of when a healthcare provider is no longer available.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) leads healthcare organizations by offering training about patient privacy, security, and confidentiality. This training helps coding and HIM professionals, as well as all authorized users, maintain high standards of work. Technological growth is rapid, and many healthcare companies and agencies now implement Electronic Health Records globally, streamlining communication, and promoting patient privacy and confidentiality. They also improve personal health records, allowing patients to control their care.
All authorized users of health records must protect patient information by signing into their computers using assigned passwords. This strategy reduces errors and prevents identity theft. If a user makes a mistake, such as assigning wrong charges to a patient, the system can track the responsible party, allowing HIM to correct the problem promptly thereby promoting patient safety and trust.
Patient confidentiality is vital; without trust, patients might not seek treatment or might withhold relevant symptoms from their caregivers, making proper treatment and diagnoses challenging. Both healthcare professionals and patients must keep health information confidential. Patients can move around the country and will want access to their health records. Personal health records enable patients to access, monitor, and manage their medical histories, schedule appointments, and view their laboratory and test results from any location.
The AHIMA and HIM professionals believe that healthcare providers and all authorized users must receive adequate training to educate patients and protect patient safety, privacy, security, and confidentiality, thereby avoiding severe penalties. Some physicians are not licensed to practice medicine and are limited according to location. It’s their responsibility to be aware of federal laws in each state in order to protect patients and prevent medical fraud.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule prohibits the use of PHI on social media networks, including any text, video, or images about a specific patient that could lead to the patient being identified. Employees should understand that certain circumstances can trigger HIPAA violations, even if patient names are not directly released. Hence, it is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to monitor their status on social media accounts, maintain appropriate boundaries with patients, and ensure that personal and business accounts stay separate. HIPAA violations on social media can lead to disciplinary actions against employees concerning patient confidentiality. Such violations can result in criminal charges, termination from work, loss of trust by the employer, and potentially the loss of a license. Healthcare facilities should secure filing cabinets containing health records and use privacy screens on computers. Furthermore, providers must be aware of other methods to secure patient confidentiality. Many medical professionals are accused of stealing patient information by overcharging patients to claim insurance and social security benefits through miscode assignment and false data reporting. The AHIMA Code of Ethics is important to guide and help healthcare organizations, HIM professionals, coding professionals, and authorized users in following procedures and rules when assigning codes, to ensure the data is of high quality and accurate.
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