Discussion: Foundations of Health Law and Ethics, Part 1 By: Eddie L. Copelin II In this week discussion I have chosen to discuss the topic of HIV/AIDS and confidentiality. The most important ethical and legal concerns associated with the issue of HIV/AIDS and confidentiality is the negative stigma around HIV/AIDS in society overall.
Interestingly enough in clinical practice it is unethical and illegal to disclose a persons HIV status; for example if a married couple are both patients at your healthcare facility and during a yearly check up one of the two out of the couple tested positive for HIV, it is unethical and illegal to share this information with his or her mate even if they are married, however on the contrary if that person has developed AIDS it is the physicians ethical and legal duty to inform people whom are at high risk of contracting the disease in this case the infected patients spouse.
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From this example one could see that the concerns of both ethical and legal guidelines may be confusing but the overall right of the patients confidentiality is that patients Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the concern is finding a balance between the rights of the patients and controlling the spread of this deadly disease (Pozgar, 2010). In the issue of HIV/AIDS confidentiality a healthcare provider could use the ethical principle of nonmaleficence.
Nonmaleficence is to do no harm to your patient (Pozgar, 2010) this includes mental and social health by violating or failing to protect a patient’s confidentiality is therefore doing harm to the patient. The social stigma of being sick overall is not welcomed and having a lethal virus that has no cure and can eventually kill is not well received by the general public and holds a negative stigma to the person who has the virus thus affecting the social and mental health of the patient which may ultimately lead to physical health problems of depression and or suicide.
The areas of law that is most likely to be relevant to health care administrators or provider dealing with this issue is medical law. Medical law is the most relevant for health care administrators for providing quality of care. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is an example of a law that was created solely for the health the healthcare industry. HIPPA was enacted to protect the privacy, confidentiality, and security of patient information (Pozgar 2010). Although law and ethics overlap they both have their own identity.
Law is the governing entity that is there to protect the patient, healthcare provider, family of the patients and other internal and external stakeholders in this discussion the HIPPA law is concerned with the confidentiality, privacy and security of patients medical information. Ethics in healthcare is the foundation of law, it asks the question ” what should I do and why should I do it? ” while providing a rational reason to support the reason of why the decision was made (Jack Schwartz, Howard L. Sollins, Dr. Nneka Mokwunye, and Dr. Felicia Cohn, 2009).
One of the ethical reasoning behind protecting a patient’s medical information in this discussion is to protect the patient from the negative social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Ethics and not simply the law are necessary in guiding the actions of health care providers and organization because ethics is the foundation of law. Laws are made from the position of asking ones self what is best for society? Ethics is the foreground before the law and is often applied a law has been made but in certain situation especially in healthcare that law may be unethical and one must challenge the law to do what is ethically correct for the patient.
In the healthcare setting especially hospitals when confronted with ethical problems healthcare providers and organizations can turn to the ethics board to help with these difficult situations. Resources: Jack Schwartz, Howard L. Sollins, Dr. Nneka Mokwunye, and Dr. Felicia Cohn “Foundations of Health Law and Ethics, Part 1” (2009). Health law and ethics. Laureate Education. Pozgar, G. D. (2010). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals (2nd ed. ). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.