The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act ( Hipaa )

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted for the purpose of protecting the privacy of a client 's personal and health information.¹ Under HIPAA, protected health information (PHI) includes but is not limited to the following: a person 's name, address, date of birth, age, phone and fax numbers, e-mail address, medical records, diagnosis, x-rays, photos, prescriptions, lab work, or test results.¹ In this particular case scenario, a healthcare employee not only breached HIPAA in regards to publically releasing a patient’s PHI without the consent of the patient, but they also betrayed their patient’s trust. Regardless of any personal relationship a physical therapist would have with another healthcare professional, steps must be taken to assure that this breach in patient confidentiality is rectified and that a similar mistake is not made again. This particular situation is made increasingly difficult due to the nature of not only my professional working relationship with this fellow member of the healthcare team, but also by the fact that I consider her one of my closest friends. Although I am not directly in charge of a certified occupational therapy assistant’s (COTA) patient case load, it is my “legal obligation to protect confidential patient/client information” according to Principle 2E of the Physical Therapy Code of Ethics.² Also according to the Physical Therapy Code of Ethics section 4C, “physical therapists shall discourage
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