What is confidentiality?
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Confidentiality refers to the non-revelation of client information to other people without the client’s consent or legal requirements.
Why is confidentiality an important aspect of the therapeutic relationship?
In therapeutic counseling, a confidential relationship between the Counselors and their clients is important. Counselors are required to protect and respect their client’s privacy by not revealing their details. Therapy conducted in strict confidentiality allows the clients to reveal character traits and habits about themselves that they dislike or admit. Confidentiality also serves as the trust of a client’s personal life to the counselor. Consequently, the client reveals even sensitive personal information without fear that the counselor will reveal the information to a third party. Confidentiality is one of the aspects of therapy that helps to create a psychologically safe environment. This allows the clients to explore various aspects of their life and share personal information. The information provided by the clients enables the therapist to offer the right counseling.
What are some exceptions to confidentiality?
The therapist can only release confidential information to third parties under written consent by the patient or the patient’s guardian authorizing the release of the information. Also, the insurance companies can request an audit of the patient’s information before agreeing to cover the patient. Court orders requiring the patient’s details can also lead to the release of confidential information. Under these circumstances, the doctor or the therapist is obliged to divulge the patient’s confidential information. These exceptions are disadvantageous to the whole issue of therapist-patient confidentiality. It makes patients withhold important information during counseling for fear that the information might be released to other parties. The infringement on patient’s medical records affects the issuance of insurance policies and coverage to patients as the insurer avoids supposed fraudulent individuals.
Hawaii’s Patient Privacy Law
The Hawaii State protection of patient privacy received a major boost with the legislation in 1999 requiring confidentiality of patient medical records. However, the failure of the health care industry to comply with these regulations led to its withdrawal in 2001. This legislation contained provisions meant to protect the patient’s personal information (Kelly, 2002). Under this legislation, patients had full access to their medical records from health care organizations. The health care providers were required to communicate openly their confidentiality practices to their patients. They were required to offer explanations to patients about accessing the health information when required to do so and the exceptions of disclosure of the confidential information. It also offered an opportunity for patients to avoid disclosure of confidential information by paying them directly. Furthermore, the release of patient information was only to parties involved in the payment of the patient’s medical bills.
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The implementation of this legislation was not possible because the law was not clear as to the care providers to comply with the requirements. There was also a problem of whether some insurance policies should get patient consent before using the information in court. The other concern was that the legislation was expensive to implement by the health care providers. Following these concerns, the Hawaii legislation could not be implemented. Only recently, the health plan proposal requires all that is covered by the insurance health plan to allow the insurers access to the patient’s information; a move that protects the health insurance from fraud performed by the doctors or patients.
Kelly, C. (2002). HIPAA Compliance: Lessons from the Repeal of Hawaii’s Privacy Law. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 37(3). Web.