publicandprivatespace

March 8, 2011

Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation: Is Private Information Truly Confidential?

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 6:36 pm

By: Rebecca Freeman

Most people feel skeptical before entering a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center, simply because they’re scared. The change, withdrawal, and most of all the privacy are all legitimate aspects of rehab to be scared about. Patients that enter a rehab shouldn’t have to feel this way though. Rehab should be considered a place where they feel the most safe, and the most willing to change and get better, to start anew. If confidentiality is broken, this could have a damaging effect on the process of the individual and the trust within the facility. Every individual has the right to his or her own privacy and that’s the way it should be kept. If a patient can’t trust the counselor or doctor that they’re working with, then there is a severe problem. A reputation could easily be ruined if a criminal breaks the code of confidentiality.

Thankfully, patients can be ensured their confidentiality through Federal Law and regulations. There are some exceptions, but this is only in cases where either a patient signs that they are okay with their personal information being shared, or if there is a court order or medical emergency. In a normal situation though, sharing the personal information of a patient in rehab is considered a crime. “The HIPAA privacy rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouse, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically.” Patients in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center have the HIPAA privacy rule to help them feel more secure and safe in the environment they’re in.

Privacy rules are needed because drug and alcohol rehabilitation is a sensitive subject. It deals with an addiction that has affected the life of the individual person and the lives of others around them. It’s not only a physical problem that they have but a psychological one as well. If their privacy rights are violated this can most definitely interfere with the success of the patient getting better. The situation itself is uncomfortable, so it’s pivotal that the patient has that trust in order to give the program their full dedication to getting better.

If the patient doesn’t feel safe or protected with their privacy, then obviously they’re not going to be willing to confess their true, raw struggles and addiction they’re trying to overcome. The relationship between the patient and doctor or counselor has a huge impact. The AMA’s code of medical ethics states the confidentiality between a patient and physician. The only way that this code can be broken is if the patient says that they are going to cause violence to him/herself or someone else, because it’s putting people at risk and danger. The fact is that the physician should be completely honest to the patient when it comes to privacy so that they both are fully informed. The patient should in turn be honest with the physician so that they can get the adequate help that they need. Eventually it will catch up the physician if they don’t keep these privacy rules of confidentiality. Everyone has their right to privacy and shouldn’t have it violated.

All of this privacy concern boils down to ethics as well. One has to realize what’s wrong or right when it comes to confidentiality and their morals. The CRCC code of ethics is specifically for rehabilitation counselors and gives them a code of ethics that they must follow in the different areas of counseling. Counselors are there to listen and help, bottom line. They must keep all information from each patient with the up most respect and make sure that it stays confidential. So many people go through these same struggles of addiction and take the first step, which is admitting that they have a problem and seeking for help, most likely in a rehabilitation facility. These patients are trying to do the right thing with their lives, so violating their personal rights would not be a way to help. Many codes and rules are being enforced, but not everyone has kept them. A safe and trustworthy environment is what’s needed for patients to improve their lives, so that’s what should be given to them, no matter what.

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