This essay focuses on the implications related to breach of data confidentiality in healthcare institutions. In particular, it focuses on patients, healthcare institutions and users of confidential patient data. Breach of confidential data brings severe consequences to the parties affected. Legally, privacy implies some control of the information recorded about a person (Schwab & Gelfman, 2005, p. 321).
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Insecure data in healthcare institutions may result in its unauthorized use by unintended users. Once there is breach of confidential data, legal action may be taken against the involved healthcare institutions. Priority is given to customers in any service delivery firm. Following a legal suit, healthcare institutions are forced to compensate patients for damages cause by the breach of confidentiality and releasing their personal data.
Implicated employees face dismissal among other internal disciplinary actions. Due to the seriousness of the consequences attached to a case of patient’s data confidentiality breach, healthcare institutions face the problem of losing public confidence and damaging its image.
Authorized users of patient data are bound by a professional and ethical code to confidential data handling, which does not allow them to reveal any information (Donaldson, 1994). In case of breach of confidential data access, a person found guilty of breach is denied access to database; besides, he/she is risks to lose employment. In addition, the implicated users face legal charges depending on the level of breach of confidential data.
Patients arguably face the most damaging consequences in case of confidentiality breach. It is traumatizing when individual health data is used or shared with unauthorized users. Public people, who have followers, such as music celebrities, may face image damage when their private information is shared in public domains. Such damaging effects are irreversible with lifelong effects on individual career.
Patients lose trust in healthcare institutions, which handle their health data carelessly. They may begin seeking for healthcare services from alternative institutions that guarantee data security. This requires a fresh build up of their health information in the new healthcare institutions. The whole exercise is costly and time consuming. Patients with average income are hardly hit by such arrangements.
Wrong use of patient data by unauthorized users within healthcare institutions may lead to wrong diagnosis. Proper treatment is almost impossible in case of wrong diagnosis. Until proper corrective measures are immediately employed, the process may be fatal. Loss of life due to improper treatment is a great damage to a patient’s family well-being.
Customers with medical insurance cover require their health data to be presented properly to the insurer. In case of breach of confidential data, such as hacking, compensation by the insurer might be declined or inadequately honored. Although the insurer may be unaware of the improper presentation, affected patients find such eventualities unbearable.
The state is interested in provision of healthcare to its citizens. Confidentiality in patients’ data has provisions in the health care act. Healthcare institutions accused in cases of confidentiality breach face loss of license, among other penalties. The state requires the data in the healthcare facilities to be secure.
In Clark & McGhee’s Private and Confidential? (2008), highlighted implications of data confidentiality breach are numerous among the stakeholders. This essay has highlighted the implications to the major stakeholders. It has paid special attention to patients who are in the centre in data confidentiality in healthcare institutions. All the efforts should be taken to maintain confidentiality and highlight the implications of breach to the mentioned parties.
Clark, C. & McGhee, J. (2008). Private and Confidential?: Handling Personal Information in Social and Health Services. Bristol: Policy Press.
Donaldson, M. S. (1994). Health Data in the Information Age: Use, Disclosure, and Privacy. Washington: National Academies Press.
Schwab, N.C. & Gelfman, M. H. G (2005). Legal issues in school health services. Bloomington: iUniverse.