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Nursing Informatics: Best Practices


Security of personal data stems from fundamental American values such as the sanctity of individual privacy. Similar to the way people in the U.S respect personal space, the healthcare system has to ensure that each person’s medical data is known only to those who are entitled to know it (McGonigle, Hunter, Sipes, & Hebda, 2014). In light of this, it is paramount to continuously develop and advance health information management systems to protect the privacy and confidentiality of clients’ data because otherwise it could be modified or deleted by third parties, which may endanger the health and wellbeing of a person.

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Best Practices in Medical Data Protection for an Organizational Policy

A secure practice is a practice that is usually approved by specialists and legislators. Data security is a set of practices that guard the information against being accessed by a third party without consent. Patient confidentiality is a right of a patient to have his medical and personal data to be kept private. Organizations need to create a policy that includes and upholds these concepts because patients’ life depends on adequate handling of the information. The safely stored information is guaranteed to remain intact should it be required for a court case. It is also paramount that a client feels secure and trusts a care provider to treat him. An agreement between a caregiver and a patient is invaluable for ensuring the best health outcomes.

Since electronic data storage has become extremely widespread in the 21st century, new safety challenges arose. Some of those problems are frequent breaches and inadequate management health records, as a result of which thousands of people had their data leaked to the public. According to Liu, Musen, and Chou (2015), the US Department of Health and Human Services reported 207 breaches, which affected more than 5 million U.S. citizens. Addressing the issue of security requires fundamental organizational thinking (Rodrigues, De La Torre, Fernández, & López-Coronado, 2013). One of such measures could be the cultivation of a security culture among health system workers and clients (LaTour, Eichenwald, & Oachs, 2013). Stakeholders need to realize the gravity of the involuntary disclosure consequences. Lectures and seminars about data security and safety may be regularly organized for health providers. Nurses may give away booklets and instruct clients on how to defend their personal health information. This measure can serve as an additional security promotion strategy in clinics.

If a clinic uses the services of another company for storing medical files of their patients, a choice of such a partner and relationship management becomes of utmost importance (LaTour, Eichenwald, & Oachs, 2013). A team of security professionals should manage the transfer of data and keep employees aware of safety measures. Cloud services have proved to be one of the most convenient and relatively safe methods of medical data storage (Rodrigues et al., 2013). However, clinic officials need to make sure that the service provider uses adequate methods of encryption and requires digital signatures to access data (Rodrigues et al., 2013).

Ethical Standards for Promoting Patient Confidentiality

According to the ANA Statement on Privacy and Confidentiality (2015), nurses must always inform patients of their rights concerning disclosure of personal medical information, such as genetic information. In addition, patients should also become aware of how their medical data will be used and stored (ANA, 2015). Moreover, nurses should not gather information, which is clearly irrelevant for devising a treatment plan. Retrieval of personal and medical data on patients by medical personnel should be motivated only by professional responsibilities (ANA, 2015). If improper handling or withdrawal of information was identified, it is each medical worker’s duty to report such activity since a patient’s health and wellbeing may depend on it. Acting on a patient’s behalf, in this case, is a primary moral and professional responsibility.

Regulation in the Sphere of Medical Data Security

One of the fundamental laws that set the legal and practical basis for health information protection is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It regulates electronic storage and transfer of data. It mandates that every institution that handles the personal health information of U.S. citizens has to develop a set of procedures regarding management, storage, sharing, and transfer of such information. In doing so, it promotes safety standards and teaches institutions to treat the personal information of Americans with care and respect.

Regarding the interests of a specific population, Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulation (SACR) could be mentioned. It regulates the privacy of medical data that is connected with the treatment of addictive syndromes. Chapter X of the Public Health Service Act regulates the security of the data regarding family planning. It promotes confidentiality of family’s health records managed by federally-funded family planning clinics.

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Nurse Leaders as Guides for Security Policy Implementation

Supervisors and senior staff should become moral and ethical beacons for their subordinates and exhibit excellence in handling any type of information. Nurse leaders need to observe the process of medical records handling with utmost zeal in order to detect any misconduct. However, in doing so, any mistake should become a case for inspection. Leaders need to ensure each member of the team learns the lesson. In addition, they need to provide assistance in developing technical skills of working with electronic databases and advance their theoretical knowledge of data protection mechanisms.


Any medical organization needs to pay close attention to how their patients’ data is gathered, stored, accessed, and transferred in order to provide the best possible level of security. A team of professionals should supervise these processes and also guide other medical workers on proper methods of electronic information protection as well as creating healthy motivation. Knowledge and application of appropriate legislation among all stakeholders are more than advisory.


American Nurses Association (ANA). (2015). Position Statement on Privacy and Confidentiality. Web.

LaTour, K. M., Eichenwald, S., & Oachs, P. (2013). Health information management: Concepts, principles, and practice. New York, NY: Ahima.

Liu, V., Musen, M. A., & Chou, T. (2015). Data breaches of protected health information in the United States. JAMA, 313(14), 1471-1473.

McGonigle, D., Hunter, K., Sipes, C., & Hebda, T. (2014). Why nurses need to understand nursing informatics. Association of Operating Room Nurses. AORN Journal, 100(3), 324-327.

Rodrigues, J. J., De La Torre, I., Fernández, G., & López-Coronado, M. (2013). Analysis of the security and privacy requirements of cloud-based electronic health records systems. Journal of medical Internet research, 15(8), e186.

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