Individual privacy Introduction Individual privacy is more important.
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Summary New national health information privacy standards have been issued by the U. The new regulations provide protection for the privacy of certain individually identifiable health data, referred to as protected health information PHI.
Balancing the protection of individual health information with the need to protect public health, the Privacy Rule expressly permits disclosures without individual authorization to public health authorities authorized by law to collect or receive the information for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury, or disability, including but not limited to public health surveillance, investigation, and intervention.
Public health practice often requires the acquisition, use, and exchange of PHI to perform public health activities e. Such information enables public health authorities to implement mandated activities e.
Public health authorities have a long history of respecting the confidentiality of PHI, and the majority of states as well as the federal government have laws that govern the use of, and serve to protect, identifiable information collected by public health authorities.
The purpose of this report is to help public health agencies and others understand and interpret their responsibilities under the Privacy Rule. Introduction The shift of medical records from paper to electronic formats has increased the potential for individuals to access, use, and disclose sensitive personal health data.
Although protecting individual privacy is a long-standing tradition among health-care providers and public health practitioners in the United States, previous legal protections at the federal, tribal, state, and local levels were inconsistent and inadequate.
A patchwork of laws provided narrow privacy protections for selected health data and certain keepers of that data 1.
Department of Health and Human Services DHHS has addressed these concerns with new privacy standards that set a national minimum of basic protections, while balancing individual needs with those of society. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of HIPAA was adopted to ensure health insurance coverage after leaving an employer and also to provide standards for facilitating health-care--related electronic transactions.
To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health-care system, HIPAA included administrative simplification provisions that required DHHS to adopt national standards for electronic health-care transactions 2.
At the same time, Congress recognized that advances in electronic technology could erode the privacy of health information.
Consequently, Congress incorporated into HIPAA provisions that mandated adoption of federal privacy protections for certain individually identifiable health information.
The Privacy Rule regulates how certain entities, called covered entities, use and disclose certain individually identifiable health information, called protected health information PHI.
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PHI is individually identifiable health information that is transmitted or maintained in any form or medium e. The covered entities are health plans, health-care clearinghouses, and health-care providers who transmit health information in electronic form in connection with certain transactions.
Comprehensive guidance and OCR answers to hundreds of questions are available at http: Impact on Public Health Public health practice and research, including such traditional public health activities as program operations, public health surveillance, program evaluation, terrorism preparedness, outbreak investigations, direct health services, and public health research, use PHI to identify, monitor, and respond to disease, death, and disability among populations.
Public health authorities have a long history of protecting and preserving the confidentiality of individually identifiable health information. They also recognize the importance of protecting individual privacy and respecting individual dignity to maintaining the quality and integrity of health data.
CDC and others have worked to consistently strengthen federal and state public health information privacy practices and legal protections 5.
DHHS recognized the importance of sharing PHI to accomplish essential public health objectives and to meet certain other societal needs e.
Further, the Privacy Rule permits covered entities to make disclosures that are required by other laws, including laws that require disclosures for public health purposes.
Thus, the Privacy Rule provides for the continued functioning of the U. S public health system. Covered entities should become fully aware of the scope of permissible disclosures for public health activities as well as state and local reporting laws and regulations. Moreover, a public health authority may also be a covered entity.
For example, a public health agency that operates a health clinic, providing essential health-care services and performing covered transactions electronically, is a covered entity. This report provides guidance to public health authorities and their authorized agents, researchers, and health-care providers in interpreting the Privacy Rule as it affects public health.
CDC recommends that public health authorities share the information in this report with covered health-care providers and other covered entities and work closely with those entities to ensure implementation of the rule consistent with its intent to protect privacy while permitting authorized public health activities to continue.
More complete definitions of these, and other terms, are located elsewhere in this report Appendix A.“Unfortunately, the trade-off for these conveniences and personal safety features is personal privacy. Our cell phones are location tracking devices.
We Americans cherish our ability to travel freely and anonymously. Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S.
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A reader asked me recently what the Life Safety Code differences were between a new construction ambulatory healthcare occupancy, and an existing construction ambulatory healthcare occupancy.
One consistent finding over the years about public attitudes related to privacy and societal security is that people’s answers often depend on the context.
The language of the questions we ask sometimes affects the way people respond.