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The privacy of personal health information continues to be the subject of heated debate in the United States of America. With the major part of the health data being computerized, more and more patients express concern for their privacy and control over their health information. A federal law, called the HIPAA Privacy Rule gives every individual the right to see, obtain a copy of, and add information to one`s medical record.Assignment: Oregon Healthcare Privacy Laws
Numerous laws in the State of Oregon also protect patients and their personal health information from disclosure or unlawful use. The healthcare privacy law ensures the confidentiality of medical information and records of patients in foster homes for adults, nursing homes, health agencies and individuals receiving mental healthcare. All insurers willing to offer health benefit plans are obliged to ensure the patient records and information to be completely confidential (Policy for Protected Health Information, 2012).
The healthcare privacy law of Oregon, being probably the most stringent privacy law in the US, specifies several classes of information to be specially protected. These are: information relating to genetics, mental health, alcohol and drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, as well as the information regarding minors (Dayton & Apgar, 2007). Any kind of release of protected healthcare information generally requires a specific authorization from the patient. Thus, any disclosure for the sake of treatment, healthcare operations or payment should be authorized. Such authorization has to be specific, time limited and event driven, it cannot be valid longer than one and a half year.
It goes without saying that privacy and confidentiality of health-related information is paramount, however, the law provides numerous means, by which medical information may be disclosed without being authorized by the patient. For example: when the individual is unconscious in an emergency situation, the healthcare professionals may take the decision to disclose the health information, based on their professional judgment. The disclosure or use of the personal health data is determined by the best interests of the patient. Disclosure of personal health information to public health authorities may occur under certain circumstances. For instance: during a public health emergency, declared on the state level, the local public health administrators receive an immediate access to specific health information (Access to Individually Identifiable Health Information, 2013) and may disclose this information to authorized agencies on the state and local level. Authorized individuals may receive the information regarding the investigation of a reportable disease obtained in case there exists a clear evidence that such release is necessary to prevent the danger to individual`s health or to the public (Access to Individually Identifiable Health Information, 2013). Assignment: Oregon Healthcare Privacy Laws
Disclosure may occur for research purposes, in case certain criteria are met. The Oregon Health Authority may publish statistical reports and data relating to general or epidemiological morbidity studies, if this information remains impersonal, without identifying individual cases and information sources (Vital and Public Health Statistics System, 2012). Disclosure of HIV/AIDS test information may be done by the clinical laboratories only to the person ordering the test, as well as to an individual, who must review this medical information for treatment (Policy for Protected Health Information, 2012).
The importance of the personal healthcare information protection is difficult to overestimate. Medical record of the patient may include some of the most intimate details about his life. Apart from containing information about patient’s mental and physical health, it may include data regarding personal relationships, social behaviors and financial status of the individual. Thus, privacy and confidentiality of such information is and should be protected by the Federal and State laws.
- Access to Individually Identifiable Health Information. Oregon Administrating Rules. 333-003-0050 (2013)
- Dayton, G. & Apgar, C. (2007) Oregon HISPIC Project Specially Protected Health Information & Oregon Law. Recommendations to the Health Fund Board. (34-35)
- Policy for Protected Health Information. Oregon Revised Statutes ‘192.518 (2012)
- Vital and Public Health Statistics System. State, County and Local Registrars. Oregon Revised Statutes. ‘ 432.060 (2012). Assignment: Oregon Healthcare Privacy Laws