Administrative Ethics Paper
The journal article that I chose is about a case of privacy and confidentiality of health care employees in New Zealand and not the United States. Its relevancy though is just as important here as it was in New Zealand. New Zealand has a Privacy Act similar to the United States’ HIPAA. The article “Privacy, employees and human resources: a case report” (Mair, 2011) documents the release of an employee’s medical records to his employer, a New Zealand hospital and the resulting issues. Although administrators are highly cognizant of patient privacy and confidentiality, it can be easily overlooked when employees are involved.
The article concerns an employee ...view middle of the document...
She also told the HR Manager that the patient/employee had made serious threats against the staff. Later she was unable to substantiate her claims with any examples of threats to the staff. The employee’s medical information was discussed among members of the staff. including the HR Manager, Nurse X and the nurse accused of bullying him, his employer’s indemnity insurers, and others. When he attempted to return to work his access was denied. He filed a formal grievance in regard to his medical records having been forwarded to HR, and a hearing was held in which his complaints were upheld under the New Zealand Privacy Act.
While there are differences between New Zealand’s Privacy Act and HIPAA in the United States, both are intended to protect the privacy and confidentiality of patients. Under HIPAA there is little doubt on what constitutes a violation of a patient’s privacy. However, it could be an issue for employees of health care organizations. Most employees of a health care organization look to their employer when needing medical care. A health care employee’s medical records must be kept as confidential and private as any other patient’s. If not, the employee could face a loss of wages, embarrassment, or termination.
As regard the unauthorized access of the patient’s medical records from the second hospital by Nurse X, it was determined that the right of access was terminated at the time the patient/employee was transferred to the second hospital. If a patient changes doctors the previous doctor while obligated to send his records to the new doctor, if requested, no longer has the right to any medical information on the patient from that time one. It was also determined that Nurse X did not provide authorization from the patient to access his records. Both were in violation of New Zealand’s Privacy Act as it would be in violation of HIPAA. Nurse X claimed that her reasons for obtaining the medical records and reporting her findings were because of her concern of serious and imminent danger to both the patient and the nurse he was having issues with. However, because she did not make any reports of the situation until seven days after she examined him and that there were no specific threats made at any time, it was determined that there was no evidence of any threat of a serious nature. The first hospital was also found to be violation of New Zealand’s Privacy Act because it was also determined that the HR Manager did not take steps to ensure that the information that Nurse X had provided was accurate, relevant, or misleading.
According to Martin (2011), “covered entities, such as hospitals or long-term care providers, which are also employers, may not be subject to HIPAA in their capacity as employer.” However, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (n.d.), “HIPAA's statutory language excludes employers per se as covered entities. But DHHS has noted that health plans, providers and...