Medical social workers must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, especially the Privacy Rule. HIPAA gives patients the right to access their medical records and ensures that identifiable health information is not shared without their written consent. In practice, medical social workers often face predicaments involving the disclosure of health information. Besides following HIPPA guidelines and policies in their daily work, medical social workers may be called upon to educate patients and their families about HIPAA regulations.
To prepare for this Discussion, review this weekâ€™s resources, including the media and two case scenarios. Select one case and focus on the dilemma illustrated in the case.
Case Scenario 1:
You are a medical social worker in an outpatient clinic at a major teaching hospital. A woman shows up at the clinic who claims she is one of your patientâ€™s sisters. She states, â€œI am here to find out whether my brother George has been coming to his appointments. I am very worried because he is so sick and does not seem to be getting better. All I want to do is help him.â€ She goes on to say, â€œI donâ€™t think heâ€™s taking his medication. Can you tell me what meds he should be taking?â€
Case Scenario 2:
You are a medical social worker at a skilled nursing facility. You receive a phone call from a man who states he is one of your patientâ€™s brothers. Your patient was admitted to the skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation after a long stay at an acute care hospital. In addition to his medical issues, your patient has rather severe mental health issues. The man on the phone is frantic and wants to know whether his brother is still a patient at the skilled nursing facility. He also asks about his brotherâ€™s condition. He asks, â€œIs he stable? Is he ok? Is he getting better? Is he taking his medication?â€ The man on the phone explains that your patientâ€™s mother just passed away. He needs to tell his brother but does not want to do so unless his brother is able to handle the news.
By Day 3
Post a brief description of a medical social workerâ€™s responsibilities, under HIPAA guidelines, that apply to the case you selected. Describe the rights of the person making the inquiry, and explain how you as a medical social worker should respond. Then, describe the rights of the patient and the actions you might consider to safeguard your patientâ€™s information. Briefly describe your professional responsibilities to protect your patient.
Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the resources and the current literature using appropriate APA format and style.