Are emergency room visits confidential? This is a common worry among very many Americans who visit the emergency rooms and are wary of their privacy and confidentiality of their medical conditions. The concern about confidentiality of patient information comes amid reports that some unscrupulous practitioners breach the code of conduct and end up sharing very important patient information which is otherwise considered sensitive and personal.
So as a patient looking to make emergency room visits soon, should you be concerned about the privacy and confidentiality of the information shared? What should you do in case your doctor breaches the professional conduct and ethics and ends up sharing or leaking you information, what should you do? Well, let’s a look at emergency room confidentiality and all that you should know;
Emergency room confidentiality
Confidentiality is a fundamental principle of medical ethics and is pivotal in maintaining trust between patients and doctors. This is an obligation not just to emergency room doctors but all general practitioners and they are not allowed to deliberately give out information on a patient to a third party without consent. This means that all the medical and personal information given to a medical practitioner by a patient remains strictly between the two parties unless the patient gives consent to the doctor to share the information out to a third party.
Without confidentiality, cases of leaked patient information would be rampant and this would affect the trust between patients and their doctors. People would be afraid of revealing medical conditions which are regarded as shameful to their doctors. Sexually transmitted infections and other infections which are considered to warrant stigma from the society would be a big secret and people would die from these infections without reporting the same. Thanks to the Professional Conduct and Ethics fir Registered Medical Practitioners though, you can enjoy confidentiality and share information without worrying about it being leaked to the world. To further understand the term confidentiality and its use in the medical scene, here are the main principles of confidentiality;
Disclosure with consent
In some circumstances, the doctor or emergency room physician is allowed to disclose the medical information to another party if the patient gives their consent. This is only applicable if the patient is in a capacity to make his/her own decisions about their healthcare. Unless the patient is in a state where they cannot make their own healthcare decisions and failure to disclose the information would put the patient at risk, the doctor should not disclose the information to the relatives, close friends or any other third party without consent.
2. Disclosure without consent
There are some times when the general practitioner is mandated to disclose a patient’s information by law or in the public interest. A good example is where a doctor holds reasonable belief that a crime involving a sexual assault has been committed against a minor or a vulnerable individual. Disclosure in public interest must be made to protect the victim. The doctor’s only needs to be absolutely sure about the information and its accuracy in relation to the case before disclosing it. In such a scenario still, the doctor is required to disclose the information to the minimum number of people necessary.
3. Medical reports can’t be shared without consent.
Did you know that an emergency room is only allowed to prepare a medical report on a patient only if the patient gives consent? This means that the doctor cannot give the information out to a third part even if it is your employer without your consent.
4. Recordings can’t be shared as well
Just like medical reports, recordings made by a doctor during an emergency room visit cannot be shared without the patient’s consent. This applies to audio and visual recordings or any other images of the patient.
What to do in case of breach of confidentiality?
If during your visits to the emergency room your doctor deliberately or accidentally shares your confidential information, what should you do? Well, you can sue the medical practitioner and the facility at large for breaching confidentiality and sharing your personal information. Their license will be suspended, they will compensate you and if need be they will serve some jail time.
Here at Bellaire, we value our customers and vow to always keep patients’ information confidential at all times. It is therefore not surprising that we have never had even a single complaint about breach of confidentiality ever since we started our operations here in Texas. You can therefore confide in us and trust us to keep all your information confidential forever.
For more information on confidentiality and privacy, give us a call today or visit our offices and we will gladly help you understand why we always strive to keep your medical information private and confidential.