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It has come to our attention that a breach of confidentiality has occurred in our office.   One of our patients has filed a complaint regarding a breach of his (PHI) patient health information.   The breach occurred when two of our employees were discussing the patient’s HIV status in a common area in the presence of his mother.   This is unacceptable and is a violation of the HIPAA Laws and our policies [1]. Fortunately, the patient’s mother was aware of her son’s condition, and there were no other patients within earshot.   Let me make this clear, this was an unauthorized release of patient health information, and the law obliges to make sure this doesn’t happen again.   Not only is it a privacy issue but also a violation of the patients civil rights. We will address our expectations of our staff in regards to PHI and what safeguards will we improve to guarantee that this does on happen again.   We will review our policies, HIPAA and the conditions for HIV/AIDS patients and the consequences for this breach in confidentiality.
Confidentiality is the obligation of the health care provider to maintain patient information in a manner that will not permit dissemination beyond the health care provider.   The origin of confidentiality is found in the Hippocratic Oath [2]:
“I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. However it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.”[3]  
Not only is a breach of confidentiality unethical, it is illegal.

What is HIPAA?
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, [4] Congress passed this law to protect patients’ health information and how it is handled and access to health insurance.   There are four parts to...

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