How does HIPAA serve to protect patient rights?
Be Careful What You Say in the Dining Hall
Robert and Cynthia are social workers with master’s degrees in Social Services. They work at the Inner City Mental Health Authority (ICMHA), a certified agency for the provision of services to families and individuals who have mental, psychological, or addiction issues. Both Robert and Cynthia provide direct services to clients on a referral basis and each carries a significant caseload, made greater by the recent resignation of another MSW. Robert is a seasoned social worker who has more than 20 years experience in direct social services and social service administration. Cynthia is a relatively new social worker; this is her first job out of college. One day after work, Robert and Cynthia meet for coffee in the cafeteria where Cynthia reveals that she has had a very difficult day. She discusses in detail a challenging case about a family with an alcoholic mother and a codependent father. The case involves three children under the age of 10 and Cynthia discusses each by name, their personalities, and physical appearances. She is very concerned about the children’s well-being in the home environment. Cynthia gives concrete examples of her concern for each child. Robert offers Cynthia support and advice on how to handle the case, and refers to a previous case they worked on together. The names and details of that earlier case are also discussed. The next day, both Robert and Cynthia are summoned to the office of the Director of The International Conference in Modeling Health Advances (ICMHA). Once the door is closed, the ICMHA director confronts Robert and Cynthia about their conversation in the cafeteria. Apparently, the grandmother of the three children Cynthia is working with overheard the discussion in the cafeteria. After hearing the conversation, she approached the organization’s director with concerns about the confidentiality and privacy of her family and the other family discussed.
1. How does HIPAA serve to protect patient rights? Answer in general terms, but then apply the question to the case study. (Who is HIPPA serving here in terms of patient rights? Explain. Should HIPAA be applied here at all? Why or why not?)
2. What areas of HIPAA compliance impact the employer?
3. What actions should the ICMHA director take about the alleged HIPAA violation in the case?