Health Privacy Breach

​There has been increasing concern over the privacy of patient medical data over the past years. With the advancement in technology and automation of patient services, patient medical data confidentiality has been compromised. Moreover, the use of health record software programs, nurse informatics, and telemedicine have placed patient information at greater risk of exposure to unintended parties, loss, or damage (Bari & O’Neill, 2019). The increasing rate of privacy breaches influenced health information security laws such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects patients’ data from a privacy breach. According to HIPAA, medical patients must decide whether their medical information should be exposed to others for some reason. HIPAA allows patients to agree whether their medical information should be exchanged electronically, directly, or through a Health Information Exchange Organization (HIE). This paper will analyze privacy breaches in different scenarios.

Scenario One

​The privacy and security issues in the first scenario are evident from the post when the nurse disclosed the weight (400 lbs) of the patient and the patient’s health condition (intubated COPD patient). Disclosing the personal medical information of a patient without their permission is against the HIPAA policy. It violates the HIPAA rule that demands that patients agree whether their information should be shared electronically or directly (Chenthara et al., 2019). The data can have significant psychological, mental and social effects on a patient, which can interfere with the patient’s response to medication and the recovery process.

Scenario 2 

​In the second scenario, the security and privacy issues are evident when the nurse educator decided to use the patient’s actual information and use the patient’s image in a presentation poster. According to HIPAA privacy protection policy, full-face image photographs are considered private health information (PHI). They fall under HIPAA privacy protection if they are tied directly to a patient. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) suggests that photography should be part of a patient’s informed consent before it is used. The use of patient’s photograph for promotion or advertising is a violation of AHIMA privacy protection policies. According to AHIMA, clinical photos for healthcare fall into three categories: education, treatment, and publication (Krisby, 2018). The use of patient’s photo for education at professional meetings or conferences without the patient’s consent is a violation of AHIMA privacy protection policies. According to AHIMA, the amount of PHI used in training should be the minimum necessary to accomplish the training. The patient must authorize the use of PHI outside the education setting, such as conferences and seminars.

Scenario 3

​The security and privacy issues in the scenario are sharing patient’s health data with authorized persons. Patient’s health data should remain private and confidential and should only be shared upon authorization by the patient. The long-term care facility should not seek information about the patient from the hospital directly without seeking the patient’s informed consent. The hospital should not exchange patient’s medical data with the long-term care facility without obtaining the patient’s informed consent. This is a violation of HIPAA privacy protection policies, which demands that hospitals seek informed consent from patients before sharing their medical data Krisby, 2018). Since the patient was supposed to return to the long-term care facility after medication, the charge nurse could have waited for the patient and inquire about the information she wanted directly from the patient without asking the hospital.


Bari, L., & O’Neill, D. P. (2019). Rethinking patient data privacy in the era of digital health. Health Aff Blog.

Chenthara, S., Ahmed, K., Wang, H., & Whittaker, F. (2019). Security and privacy-preserving challenges of e-health solutions in cloud computing. IEEE access, 7, 74361-74382.

Krisby, R. M. (2018). Health care held ransom: Modifications to data breach security & the future of health care privacy protection. Health Matrix, 28, 365.

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Alex Otieno

Author Since: January 17, 2021