Your visits to healthcare providers are protected under the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act, more widely known as HIPPA. Your home caregivers must also abide by HIPPA rules.
Permission Not Granted
Only you can provide permission for your health information to be shared in any given situation. Those close to you may be concerned and feel it necessary to know the details of your health status. It is up to you to decide whether or not they be fully informed or to what degree information is shared. You can tell them what you want them to know, or you can allow them to know all the details; however, without permission, your home caregiver cannot disclose anything about your health situation.
Importance of Boundaries
Caregivers can become like family members. Bonds are created between you and those you depend on for assistance. There are certain expectations on both sides. Boundaries need to be in place to keep the relationships professional, yet friendly and warm. As professionals, your caregivers have certain guidelines to follow and rules governing how they handle information regarding your health.
The rules are in place to protect the privacy of individuals. Failure to comply can result in serious consequences for the caregiver and his or her agency. You also have some responsibility in setting and maintaining boundaries to protect your privacy. Your caregiver does not necessarily need to know all the details of your health status. Sharing the information that is pertinent to, and necessary for your care is important. But there may be aspects of your health that do not need to be disclosed, especially if they have no bearing on the quality of your care.
Secure Your Information
You or your loved one may have passwords or personal health information from visits to the doctor or clinic. These types of things should be kept in a safe and secure place to which only you and those you designate have access. You do not want to leave sensitive information in an unsecured place because your privacy could be violated inadvertently.
The Need-to-Know Basis
There may be some health information that needs to be shared with your caregiver and some you may want to share with family members. You decide how much of your personal information is shared and with whom it is shared. In some cases, the situation may change, and steps need to be taken to cover these changes.
If you have a loved one who is capable of making his or her own decisions and he or she is receiving help from a caregiver, your loved one can decide about sharing health information. But what happens when that person is no longer able to make those decisions due to a problem like dementia? In these types of situations, it is important to have someone with a healthcare power of attorney. The decision-making then falls to that person.
When a caregiver accompanies you or your loved one to an appointment, he or she needs to let the healthcare provider know that health information should be shared with the designated people. This could be certain family members – those with a healthcare power of attorney and/or the designated team of caregivers.
Avoid Problems with Privacy
“To err is human . . .” and slips can happen to the most diligent of caregivers. Unless it is a blatant breach of privacy, the situation can be a teachable moment for the caregiver. Caregivers need to ensure that they are doing all they can to maintain the privacy of their clients.
Disclosing confidential health information improperly can happen in casual conversation and it is important for caregivers to be aware of this possibility. It is reasonable to mention to your caretaker that you want your privacy respected. Make sure the person knows who in your family is to receive information about your health.
If your caregiver uses a mobile device in connection with your personal health information, it should be secured, and the network used to store or transmit that information should be encrypted. In fact, any personal health information your caregiver receives should be secured, whether digital or hardcopy.
Leave Nothing to Chance
Having a conversation early on about privacy concerning health information is preferable to dealing with breaches in privacy later. Ideally, you will designate who you want as your healthcare power of attorney and let that person know if there are others who you would like to keep informed about your health and to what extent. Your home care provider should also be aware of your wishes.
Speaking to your homecare provider about your health information privacy sets the stage for a greater understanding of the importance of this topic. Having a talk about privacy and expectations may lower the risk for inadvertent disclosure in casual conversation.
Health information privacy is a critical issue for everyone and especially so for those who are entrusting their care to others. About Care Home Care makes it a priority to ensure that our client’s privacy is respected. Contact us for more information about quality home care.