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HIPAA Compliance and Maintaining Client Dignity

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Healthcare professionals see clients at their most vulnerable and have access to private medical information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law healthcare providers must comply with to protect sensitive client information. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), "The HIPAA Rules are designed to protect the privacy of all of an individuals' identifiable health information and to ensure that health information is available when needed for treatment and other appropriate purposes." Every staff member at Driftwood Recovery practices HIPAA compliance to ensure a positive treatment experience for clients in recovery.

Why Is HIPAA Compliance Essential to Client Care?

Clients are more likely to give an accurate medical history, raise concerns, report changes in their status, and reach out to the care team for help if they know their information is kept private and safe. HIPAA compliance shows clients their personal information is secure and confidential. Clients often feel more comfortable following the guidance of their care team if they believe the staff has their best interest at heart.

HIPAA guidelines do the following:

  • Ensure only qualified individuals have access to private medical records
  • Give clients control over who can access their records
  • Ensure all clinicians and support staff working with the client have the same information
  • Makes it easier to share client information with outside medical professionals for referrals

Celebrities and people well-known to the public often have a more difficult time trusting strangers with the private details of their lives. Educating those individuals on their protections under HIPAA can reduce stress and strengthen the client-clinician relationship. Federal, state, and local laws, including HIPAA, protect clients while ensuring their healthcare providers can access essential records and provide appropriate treatment.

HIPAA Guidelines Ensure Client Medical Information Remains Secure

Healthcare providers, insurance companies, healthcare contractors, and others playing a role in a person's medical care must comply with HIPAA laws. Staff members can only divulge protected client information if they have a court order, the client's safety or the safety of others is in jeopardy, or the client provides written authorization. Every staff member at Driftwood Recovery follows policies and procedures that are put in place to ensure HIPAA compliance. Clients provide written consent if they want their information shared with outside health professionals, family members, or others involved in their care.

HIPAA protections cover a person's individually identifiable health information. According to the HHS, "'Individually identifiable health information' is information, including demographic data, that relates to:

  • the individual's past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
  • the provision of health care to the individual, or
  • the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,

and [details that identify] the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual." Staff members keep client records and information strictly protected and confidential. HIPAA compliance builds trust with clients by reassuring them their information is safe and secure.

Improving Treatment Outcomes

Building client trust results in better treatment outcomes. People are more likely to open up with their therapist and trust other care team members if they feel confident the things they do and say will remain private. Healthcare workers can also provide better treatment with consistent guidelines to help them navigate client interactions.

HIPAA Compliance and Interacting With Client Families

Client families often want to be part of the treatment process. In some cases, family dynamics cause tension, conflict, or stress for individuals in recovery. Families are not entitled to know anything about their loved one's treatment or diagnosis unless the client grants permission. According to the HHS, HIPPA "sets boundaries on the use and release of health records" and "empowers individuals to control certain uses and disclosures of their health information." In most cases, family members need client authorization to access records or receive updates on their recovery.

Some exceptions exist, including if a family member has power of attorney (POA) to act on a client's behalf. Driftwood Recovery provides each client with details about how and when their information may be shared. The care team also ensures clients understand their rights and protections under HIPAA.

Professionalism and Information Security

Driftwood Recovery has policies and procedures in place to ensure staff act professionally and comply with HIPAA. Everyone has the right to privacy and deserves to be treated with dignity. Staff members follow HIPAA and other federal, state, and local laws to ensure clients and their loved ones have a positive treatment experience. Driftwood Recovery keeps all records secure and encourages an environment of self-accountability in the workplace. Staff members act with professionalism at all times and prioritize the safety and security of client information.

Some people avoid treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders out of fear their private medical information may be shared with others. Clients may be afraid of how their family, friends, or community will react to their diagnosis and decision to get treatment. Healthcare professionals have a legal obligation to protect client data. HIPAA laws require healthcare professionals to follow specific guidelines when gathering and sharing client information. The experts at Driftwood Recovery understand the importance of treating clients with dignity, respect, and compassion. Every staff member follows strict policies and procedures regarding client records. To learn more about how we protect our clients and provide a high-quality treatment experience, call us today at (512) 759-8330.