Administrative Ethics Paper
Kelly N McCoy
May 19, 2014
Melissa Green, MHA
Administrative Ethics Paper
Safeguarding patient privacy has been a serious problem even with current technology. Not only are “regular” patients at risk; celebrities and politicians are at a greater risk related to the current culture of social media, reality television, and the “need to know” attitude of today’s society. In the past ten years, serious issues with breeches in celebrity and politicians privacy and confidentiality have risen. For example, in 2013, the reality star Kim Kardashian’s and rapper Kayne West’s medical records were inappropriately accessed between June 18th and June 24th, ...view middle of the document...
In recent years, Los Angeles and New York hospitals have had issues and problems with protecting high-profile celebrity medical records from employees and the tabloids that have attempted to buy information. Although there were no arguments or facts used to support a proposed solution of ensuring patient’s privacy, the article did point out that in 2008 Governor Schwarzenegger signed a law fining health care facilities for violating patient privacy by unauthorized access of patients medical records (Associated Press, 2013). According to Birnbaum (2009) “The Confidentiality of Medical Information Act defines unauthorized access as the inappropriate review or viewing of patient medical information without a direct need for diagnosis, treatment, or other lawful use” (p. 50). In addition, under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, individuals, health plans, and health care providers will be held accountable for unauthorized use, access, or disclosure of medical information (Birnbaum, 2009). The Confidentiality Medical Information Act also requires health care organizations to report privacy breaches to the California Department of Public Health within five days after the discovery of the breach (Birnbaum, 2009). The Confidentiality Medical Information Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), are laws that protect patients’ privacy and protected health information (PHI). According the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2006) “The HIPAA privacy rule creates national standards to protect patients’ medical records and other PHI” (p. 1). HIPAA also limits the release of information to the minimum reasonably needed for the process of disclosure (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2006).
While the five employees at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center were fired and banned from accessing Cedar-Sinai’s medical records for life, it is important to understand the ethical and legal ramifications as well. For example, the employees violated certain ethical principles such as the principle of rights, honesty, lawfulness, and social benefit. The principle of rights acknowledges a person’s right to privacy and safety. The principle of lawfulness is simply not violating the law. Finally the principle of social benefit acknowledges the extent to which an action produces beneficial consequences for society (Able2Know, 2010). In addition to violating ethical principles, the former employees could have faced additional legal issues. For example, under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, health care facilities or individuals can be fined up to $250,000 for a data breach. It is also important to point out that violating HIPAA laws and regulations can lead to criminal and civil penalties as well as gradual, progressive, and firm disciplinary action.
Cedar Sinai Medical Center managers and administrators fired the five employees who breached the privacy and confidentiality of Kim...