Releasing Protected Health Information

The protected health information (PHI) that does not require consent from the patient, but still keeping information safe with the HIPPA law is information that has been de-identified. De-identified health information is information that has been stripped of all a patient’s personal data. There are eighteen elements that are removed before any information can be requested.

The information that is stripped or made de-identified are: names, all geographical subdivisions smaller than a state, all elements dates (except year), telephone numbers, facsimile numbers, email addresses, social security numbers, medical record numbers, health plan beneficiary numbers, account numbers, vehicle identifiers including license plate numbers, certificate/license numbers, device identifiers and serial numbers, URLs, IP address numbers, biometric identifiers, including fingerprints and voiceprints, full-face photographic and any comparable images, and any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code.

Government agencies can request medical history of a patient in an emergency room that is not able to communicate with health care providers regarding certain allergies or any other information that may be needed in the crisis. ER personnel are only allowed to obtain the information that is pertinent to the care of the patient at that time. This information would be medications they are currently on, allergies, past surgeries, and other information needed by the staff to care for the patient.

Event information like births, deaths, and information regarding a reportable disease can also be released without a patient’s consent. Workers’ Compensation can also request pertinent health information in order to evaluate a work-related injury or illness. PHI or personal health information regarding victims of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence can be disclosed to a governmental authority by legal agencies or their representatives, without having to request consent from the patient.

Gunshot wounds and injuries caused, as well as certain other wounds and injuries are reported without the patient’s consent. Also any information that is pertinent to a certain case in the courts of law can be disclosed while keeping the individuals’ personal information protected by HIPPA and PHI. Research groups are able to gather PHI from individuals for use in finding and developing cures for certain diseases such as Parkinson’s or cancer.

Information that is given to the research groups have been stripped or de-identified of all of the individual’s personal identification information. Research groups are only given medical information necessary for the project they are researching. Any other patient information can be provided upon consent from the individual. The individual would have to fill out paperwork that shows they are aware of what type of PHI can be provided to certain health care providers.

I feel that the HIPPA law protects an individual’s privacy, and that the information that is provided on the personal health information or PHI does not include any information that is personal to an individual. No names or specific dates, nor addresses or phone numbers can be just given out to any government agency, legal agency or representatives, or research groups. Confidential information is kept confidential, and the individual is given paperwork letting them know what kind of information can be disclosed without their consent.

If an individual does not understand the HIPPA law that protects their privacy, then they would be confused as to the type of personal health information PHI that is provided. I think that enough personal, private, and sensitive information is stripped or made de-identifiable before being given to government agencies, legal agencies and their representatives, and/or to research groups. Knowing that certain medical information can be retrieved if I were ever taken into an emergency room and was not able to communicate makes me feel comfortable with laws that are in place to protect my privacy.

In conclusion, as long as information that is provided without the individual’s consent has been de-identified, and can help that particular individual, or help others with research, it is a good thing that information can be provided to those who request the PHI. The HIPPA law makes sure that no personal, private information can be disclosed without the patients consent. And any other information is not provided without first obtaining the individual’s consent.

In this paper, I will discuss the principles that permit disclosure of protected health information with or without the patient’s consent for each of the four categories, government agencies, legal agencies or representatives and research groups. I will also state …

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