Home Patient Confidentiality

Patient Confidentiality

Facts About Patient Confidentiality & Care

Facts About Patient Confidentiality & Care

Psychiatrists to Patients
Patient confidentiality in regards to the relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient is a solemn aspect of the physician-patient privilege. Patients with psychiatric problems have the least rights when being committed to a psychiatric ward or an institution for the mentally ill. Patients with mental illnesses that present a specific danger to the general public can be forced to be admitted for treatment. The person who referred the patient to the custody of the mental facility will receive medical progress reports and other medical records to get a sense of the patients’ recovery.
This exception to the confidentiality between a person with a medical issue and his or her physician is viable with regard to mental illness because the disclosure of such medical records is in the interest of accountability of the mental institution as well as of the patient. Person’s who are the patient’s caretaker will receive medical records on behalf of the psychiatry patient to serve the patient that may not understand the nature of the problem. 

Non-Psychiatric Patients
Non-psychiatric patients have the least exceptions to the standards of confidentiality and care because the nature of physical illness is much more tangible than that of mental illness. Persons who are sane are more sensitive to the consequences of medical record disclosure. The solemnity of physician-patient privilege cannot legally be breached without threat of the patient suing for medical malpractice.
The issue of confidentiality is a question of medical practice because lines of clear and truthful communication between a patient and a doctor are critical to the scientific investigation of a medical problem. If a patient feels threatened by the prospect of a doctor disclosing medical secrets to the public, then the patient is less likely to freely communicate with the health care provider.
The privacy of medical records has few exceptions. Doctors share medical records with the parents of Children under the age of reason because this medical information must be shared, for the child does not know better. When a child is of the age of reason, then the doors are closed and the doctor and the teenager assume a normal physician-patient relationship. Public figures, like presidential candidates also have exceptional medical records. The health of these individuals is a matter of national interest; therefore, these individuals have less legal privacy protections.

Standard of Care

Patients are entitled to a certain standard of care to which all are due equally for a given area of medicine and locality. In a legal sense, the concept of substandard care is a matter of receiving care that is less than what would normally be administered for a given set of circumstances and illness. Patients cannot be turned down emergency care based on inability to pay. This is unique to hospitals.
Private practices reserve the right to deny care. However, emergency rooms may not deny any patient. Doctors may not administer substandard care to patients that are financially indigent. The standard of care is based on the American Hospital Associations guidelines. Malpractice laws also enforce the standard of care to which all emergency room patients are due.


Practice Guidelines
Given the faulty economy and the damages many hospitals have sustained as a result of previous malpractice suits and other financial setbacks, some hospitals have struggled to keep afloat. Hospitals have responded to the tide of malpractice suits by cracking down on innovative treatments. Hospital management have mandated practice guidelines to reduce the incidence of malpractice law suits.
Practice guidelines have opted for safer and less risky treatments. The downside of this is that the prospect of recovery may not be as big with the “safer” medical procedure. Risks and innovations have saved lives in the past, however, many hospitals now have an agenda of self-preservation over innovation today. Such practice guidelines are also intended to make consumer health-care insurance more accessible to people by reducing medical liability insurance costs. 

Proving Negligence
It is not sufficient to be merely dissatisfied with a doctor’s performance to sue a hospital or a doctor for medical malpractice. The patient must prove that the doctor acted negligently. In addition the patient must prove that the doctor’s intervention did, in fact, cause injury. This is not always the easiest fact to prove because chances are that the patient’s health was not good before receiving the allegedly shoddy medical care.
Patients also have to prove that the care was substandard to present a viable malpractice case before the court. Simply tell the lawyer the truth and the lawyer will best advise if the case is strong enough to go yield a settlement. Medical malpractice laws are designed to through out illegitimate claims and keep legitimate claims within the realm of the deserving patients seeking remedy for unnecessary pain, suffering, and economic disadvantage resulting from medical malpractice.

Know Your Hospital’s Practice Guidelines

Know Your Hospital's Practice Guidelines

Many hospitals are going through rough times as a result of a faulty economy, and skyrocketing medical liability insurance costs. Some hospitals have been forced to close as a result of economic woes in recent years; therefore, the need for clear medical practice guidelines is greater than ever before. 

If all hospitals set clear medical practice guidelines and management practice techniques, the cost of medical liability insurance would go down enough to lower the total cost of healthcare. The trickle down effect is a proven reality in the hospital industry, given that there is a strong correlation between the cost of consumer health-care insurance, and medical liability insurance for hospitals. 

The American Hospital Association seeks to promote accountability and transparency by using a management practice that holds doctors more accountable if they jeopardize the welfare of a patient. One such hospital management practice designed to benefit the patients is the fact that healthcare providers should be given incentive to adhere to evidence-based care, and to focus on safety and quality. 

Risky and innovative medical procedures that lack scientific evidence to back their practice can jeopardize the health of a patient, and violate practice guidelines. Such care should only be provided only if the patient willfully assents to the procedure. Doctors who suggest radical treatments are taking risks contrary to the aims of many practice guidelines and management practice preferences.  

Another important management practice that members of the American Hospital Association are implementing, is the quest to find sources of more compensation for medical professionals. It is a proven fact that people are less likely to perform their job well if they feel that they are not being paid well. Reasonable compensation for patients would come as a result of better doctor compensation. What is meant by reasonable patient compensation is the fact that doctors are better able to make patients “whole” after sustaining illness or injury.

 In the event of a malpractice suit, reasonable compensation would also help to remedy the non-economic and economic costs of malpractice injury.  Getting medicine right the first time is the priority of most hospitals. However, if a malpractice suit is brought to court, it would serve the entire community better if the claims process was not so adversarial. As a management practice, hospitals are hiring stronger legal teams to protect against malpractice suits.  

Hospital practice guidelines focus on preventing malpractice suits, while management practices focus on mitigating existing malpractice suits. These strategies have been adopted by many hospitals in order to avoid closure as a result of a faulty economy, and the many years it takes to recover from a serious malpractice suit or a series of frivolous malpractice suits. The idea is to make it harder for dissatisfied patients to sue doctors that do their best to provide adequate health care at a reasonable .

The Patient’s Burden of Proving Negligence

The Patient's Burden of Proving Negligence

The
outcome of medical treatment is not always favorable. Doctors do their best to
treat patients and sometimes, the outcome is less than desirable for both
parties. Doctors must move onto the next patient because their job is to care
for the sick. However, the doctor’s alleged error stays with the patient
forever. Medical malpractice laws provide that those alleging medical
negligence prove several elements of medical malpractice to win a case. 

These
several factors to prove are designed to help courts differentiate a legitimate
suit from a frivolous suit. It is a reality that there are medical procedures
that yield unfavorable results without any evidence of medical negligence in
the case; these cases are not considered malpractice. Every medical procedure
has a possibility of something going wrong. Doctors are obligated to discuss
risk factors of any medical procedures. 

Doctors are required to keep with professional standards
of practice with their patients. This is because they assume the role of
provider of health care. Therefore, it is their responsibility to administer
medical treatment to the best of their ability. The standard to which a doctor
is held depends on several factors. Doctors cannot be held liable for medical
malpractice if the circumstances could not give the doctor the appropriate
resources to perform a medical procedure. For example, a doctor who could not
provide his or her patient’s heart transplant due to the rarity of O negative
organ donors would not be guilty of medical negligence. 

The patient’s inability
to be healed is a matter of providence and not negligence. However, if the doctor
transplanted the wrong heart which resulted in the death of a patient, then the
doctor would be guilty of medical negligence. Patients are entitled to be
informed of the possible consequences of any medical procedure. If the doctor
warned that the chances of recovery for using a slightly different blood type
heart were less than appealing and the patient still insisted, the doctor is
most likely not guilty of medical negligence. This example is complex because
the doctor did not go in line with the hospital’s standard of care; but had the
intent of healing the patient by playing low odds with the patients’ consent.
The extent of the medical negligence, here, is arguable.  

In addition to substandard care and negligence, the
patient must prove that the care that was received did, in fact, harm or injure
the patient. This seems like an obvious prospect; however, it is almost certain
that the patient was not in the best of health before receiving medical care.
Therefore, the exact origin of the current medical condition can sometimes be
more ambiguous. It is also important for the court to consider whether the
disease or injury would have happened without the doctor’s alleged medical
negligence.  

Medical malpractice cases are not as clear-cut as being
in a worse condition than before receiving care from the doctor. It is an
unfortunate fact that many patients do not recover from treatment. Determining
the extent to which the unfortunate outcome is a result of medical malpractice
is an arguable matter of fact that sometimes must be settled in court.  
    

The Relationship between Psychiatrists and Patients

The Relationship between Psychiatrists and Patients

Psychiatrists and their patients have a special relationship. It is a relationship based on trust. Psychiatrists are required to keep all information relating to medical records confidential and away from public hands. Any breach of this promise is considered medical malpractice. Newly licensed psychiatrists are required to recite the Hippocratic oath. The oath does not carry legal weight.

However, all patient-psychiatrist privilege laws stem from the line in the Oath, "Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning all such should be kept secret."  

The psychiatrist-patient confidentiality is legally rooted in the Hippocratic Oath. Patient-psychiatrist confidentiality stems from the fact that when a prospective patient seeks the advice or care from a psychiatric physician, the patient might not speak freely if such information were to be public. The solemnity of the confidentiality between psychiatrists and patients is a matter of ensuring the best possible care for patients. Patients must communicate truthfully and openly what is wrong for a doctor to be able to administer optimal care.  

It is for this reason that when tacit agreements of confidentiality between psychiatrists and patients are breached, the patient can sue for medical malpractice. The publicity of medical records, and the confidentiality of psychiatric problems becoming jeopardized, is not up to the physician, but the patient. Such a breach of trust would prevent patients from freely speaking with their psychiatrist or other doctor, leaving a potentially serious condition untreated. Breaching the psychiatrist-patient confidentiality agreement is in neither the professional's, nor the patient's interest. Breaches pose a threat to the overall quality of care that patients receive. By virtue of this fact, malpractice suits apply to this breach.  Contact a malpractice lawyer to consult your case.

Doctors do not only treat patients by administering medicine or performing surgery. In fact, the way a psychiatrist treats his or her patient is as crucial as the types of psychoactive drugs they can administer. Divulging sensitive medical information to humiliate the patient, and will prevent that patient and future patients from freely expressing what ails him or her. Trust is part of the medical practice, in fact, it is the way in which all medical care is administered.

Divulging medical secrets is an egregious form of malpractice, which raises questions of the trustworthiness of a doctor's treatment. It shows a lack of respect for the profession and the humanity of the patient. Therefore, such malpractice is worthy of reputation damaging lawsuits and monetary compensation for the offended patient.

Know Your Right to Patient Confidentiality

Know Your Right to Patient Confidentiality

In the world of medicine, patient confidentiality refers to that right of a patient to have all personal and medical information kept private. This would meant that any information about the patient will only be accessible and available to the physician in care and any pertaining health care and health insurance personnel as it is deemed necessary. Colloquially, patient confidentiality and patient privacy are often considered to be one in the same. However, the proper medical application of the term is patient confidentiality as it is recognized in various medical regulations and statutes. Most medical associations and organizations will hold patient confidentiality and privacy as one of the most important responsibilities of physicians. Any information in regards to a patient must be disclosed with proper authority and permission of the patient. However, there are extenuating circumstances in which patient confidentiality may not be totally applied and is subject to state and federal laws.