Protection of Sensitive Information in Healthcare

Module 5 – SLP
Medical Records, Patient Consent, and Information Management
As your fifth assignment toward completion of the Session Long Project, you will need to
discuss the fragile balance between the need for public health agencies to acquire data and
the demand for security of sensitive information. Review the article Ethics in Public Health
Research.
As public health director in a small county, you must maintain records that track diabetes
rates, the incidence of HIV, and immunization records. Recently, there have been at least
two breeches when computers were stolen from employees or an outside hacker broke into
the system and downloaded data.
Now you must write an open letter addressing the community and explain how the
department is going to protect the information. “ In your letter, address the following
questions.”
1.Explain why the health department collects this information conveying the idea of how it
serves the greater good.
2.Discuss the public’s interest in privacy and why this is important in our society.
3.Discuss why the department needs to infringe on the community’s privacy.
4.Explain how the department might ensure greater security.
5.Be sure to identify at least one applicable regulation, statute, or source that supports the
ability of the department to collect this information.
SLP Assignment Expectations
1.Limit your response to 3 pages, not including title and reference pages.
2.Be sure to utilize at least 3-4 scholarly references to support your discussions.
3.Be sure to properly cite your references within the text of your assignment and listed at
the end.
4.Be sure to apply critical thinking skills to the write-up of your assignment, especially for
numbers 1, and 2 above.
NB
This are the readings:
Module 5 – Background
Medical Records, Patient Consent, and Information Management
Required Reading

A Practical Guide to Informed Consent. Temple Health (2007)

PROTECTION OF SENSITIVE INFORMATION IN HEALTHCARE 2
Rethinking informed consent: Tell your patients of all the treatment choices available to
them Orthopedics Today, December 2009 B. Sonny Bal, MD, JD, MBA; Lawrence H.
Brenner, JD
INFORMED CONSENT: NOT JUST A PIECE OF PAPER

Protection of Sensitive Information in Healthcare

To: The Lower Hill Community
From: Lower Hill Health Center, Public Health Department
Date: 15 th March, 2014
Aim: Protection of Sensitive Information
There exists a fragile balance between the necessity for data acquisition among public
health agencies and demand for sensitive information’s security. For a very long time, the
medical community has known the need to protect privacy, which is an essential component for
winning researchers’ and doctors’ trust. It is worth noting that medical ethics give a reflection of
the desire to increase public trust (Thornton, 2000). Since the Hippocrates era, physicians make
pledges to keep patients’ information confidential and private. A public health director is
obligated to maintain records that track various diseases as well as other crucial information
(Temple Health, 2007). Occasionally, there might be breeches or computer hacking that

PROTECTION OF SENSITIVE INFORMATION IN HEALTHCARE 3
compromises the security of sensitive data. Therefore, there is a need for all departments to take
precautions in handling sensitive data and ensuring that its security is not compromised.
Why the information is collected; basically, the health records documents information
on a person, health status, and health care use. Health records have a very distinct purpose. The
use, evaluation, and design of the records reflect the goals. The facts on an individual case are
recorded accurately. These records assist in tracking a patient’s progress as well as documenting
their service. As a result, the quality of care is improved and there is better care coordination.
Since any health care professional can view a patient’s medical history, there are reduced cases
of guessing histories, there is smoother care settings’ transitions and seeing multiple specialists is
easier, and there is better emergency situations’ care (Thornton, 2000). The medical records
improve prevention by offering patients and doctors better test results’ access, identifying any
patient information that might be missing, and providing evidence-based recommendations as far
as preventive services are concerned. Tracking patient information can assist in managing other
similar cases in future as well as developing better treatment plans.
Privacy; there are various reasons why high value should be placed on protecting
confidentiality, security, and privacy of all health information. Privacy is a principal human good
and intrinsic value. It is a human well-being component (Temple Health, 2007). Privacy is
valuable as it promotes or facilitates other fundamental values, including personhood ideals for
example, respect, individuality, worth and dignity, and personal autonomy.

PROTECTION OF SENSITIVE INFORMATION IN HEALTHCARE 4
Need to infringe on privacy; protecting health records is vital since when being used in
research, it needs storage, collection, and utilization of huge amounts of individual identifiable
health information. A majority of the information is usually potentially embarrassing and
sensitive. In case there is breach of security, the people whose information was accessed
inappropriately experience several potential harms. Disclosing personal information causes
intrinsic harm considering that other people know the personal information. There is also a
potent danger of economic harm. People could end up losing their jobs, housing, or health
insurance in case the wrong kind of information is known to the public. People could also suffer
psychological or social harm. For instance, disclosing information about a person who is infected
with an STD or HIV can cause social isolation or other form of psychological harm. Security
breach also exposes people to identity theft dangers (Temple Health, 2007).
Ensuring greater security; to ensure that there is greater security for patients’ records, a
security officer can be appointed on privacy boards and IRBs so that he can be accountable for
assessing as well as determining protection needs. Moreover, he can train staff and implement
solution; use encoding and encryption techniques, especially on removable media and laptops
that contain personally identifiable health care information; and implementing notification
requirements for breaches so that patients are well empowered to protect their identities in case
there is a breach. In addition, healthcare institutions need to implement security protections
layers so as to ensure that in case security fails to function in one layer, another layer is likely to

PROTECTION OF SENSITIVE INFORMATION IN HEALTHCARE 5
stop it. The best practices should be published together with the cooperative approach to security
standards’ compliance (Temple Health, 2007). These include security audits, self-evaluation, and
certification programs, which can promote progress. Research sponsors should adopt the best
practices in protecting data. The researchers should implement proper security measures before
funding. The federal government also has a role in supporting technologies development so as to
promote health information security.
Regulation or statute; presently, a majority of the healthcare records are computerized.
Individuals express a concern regarding their privacy and the fact that they no longer have
control over personal health information. To help address these public concerns, the federal rules
that govern the disclosure and use of health information are promulgated under the HIPAA
Privacy Rule or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (Thornton, 2000). The rule
restricts how health care providers can disclose or use the gathered health information in health
research. Health information privacy’s value is acknowledged since it is protected under the law.

Thank you for your continued support.

Yours faithfully,
Public Health Director

PROTECTION OF SENSITIVE INFORMATION IN HEALTHCARE 6

References

Temple Health. (2007). A Practical Guide to Informed Consent.

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