Shaking handsMedical offices are sensitive environments. The risks they pose to patients are always there, even when doctors take every precaution. Besides physical safety, physicians and their staff also have to ensure protection of the patient’s private information. Patient confidentiality is one of the most important ethical standards in the industry.

Should a breach of privacy occur, this might lead to a malpractice claim against the office.

Privacy Breaches

A patient’s medical information contains exceptionally private, vital statistics. Only certain people should have access to patient information. These people often include only patients, doctors and other care providers. Sometimes, even patients’ families cannot access their medical information without permission. Doctors have to safeguard their patient’s privacy in almost all circumstances.

Breaching a patient’s privacy may be grounds for a client to claim malpractice. Even if a doctor just exposes a sensitive conversation, the patient may attempt legal action. If a claim occurs, the physician should look to their malpractice insurance for help. Insurance may help the physician compensate affected clients, settle the suit or afford legal fees. Even if a claim proves invalid, the doctor may need to turn to their insurance for assistance.

Preventing Privacy Breaches in Your Practice

Malpractice coverage will often assist doctors in the event of unavoidable privacy breaches. For example, if patient records get lost or stolen, your malpractice coverage may help. However, it won’t help if a doctor intentionally breaches patient privacy law. Therefore, doctors must take steps to guard patient privacy.

  • Follow all HIPPA and privacy regulations as established by law. Most medical professionals re-evaluate their HIPPA compliance procedure every so often.
  • Maintain tight security over patient records. Enforce strict recording practices and require monitoring of all access to records.
  • Screen all practice employees to ensure they comply with privacy practices.
  • If you keep patient information on computer networks, secure these systems. You likely need encryption, passwords, virus protection and cyber theft prevention mechanisms. Also monitor access to these systems by all employees.
  • When releasing patient information, make sure you only present the information to those who have an entitlement to it.
  • Keep all verbal and written information from patients under strict confidence. Remember, at times, patients may confide sensitive matters in their physicians. To divulge such information to unauthorized parties is likely unethical.

Your patient have an entitlement to privacy. Breaking that trust could result in problems for your practice. Call Joseph A. Britton Agency at 800.462.3401 for more information on malpractice insurance in New York.

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