Imagine if the person you trusted most decided to share all of your secrets with your worst enemy? You probably wouldn’t ever trust that person again. It might even make you stop trusting people altogether. That idea of trust is at the foundation of your medical care and why patient confidentially is so important.
When you believe that your doctor isn’t going to share anything about your health, illnesses or personal habits with others, you’re more likely to be completely honest. And that’s really important for the effective treatment of whatever illness or injury you have. The more details you provide to your doctors, the more they’ll be able to figure out what’s going on and help you get better.
Some diseases have stigmas attached to them that could make people think less of you. For example, back in the 1980s, many people who had symptoms of HIV and AIDS were afraid of being found out. They didn’t go to their doctors until it was too late. Because you know your health records are private, you’re probably more likely to seek treatment –for whatever you have.
As unfair as it sounds, some people will judge you by a condition or illness. Patient confidentiality makes sure that their ignorance can’t harm you. Whether it’s a friend or family member, you should be the one to decide who knows what about your medical history.
Did you know that patient confidentiality doesn’t just help you the individual? It can help the whole country! When people are confident that what they say to healthcare professionals is private, they’re more likely to participate in studies and healthcare initiatives. That helps fight disease and lessen the spread of epidemics.
Patient confidentiality isn’t just a good idea; it’s the law. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your medical records and other health information you provide to healthcare professionals and facilities, and insurers is privileged information. They cannot share it without your consent, unless the safety and welfare of others is at stake. Patient confidentiality is at the heart of the American Healthcare system.
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