All those in health care must now comply with the Federal regulations of The Administration Simplification Subtitle of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This Act requires individually identifiable patient information to is disclosed on a need to know basis only. Care must be taken to minimize incidental disclosures and must disclose only minimal amounts of information necessary to accomplish the task. The minimum disclosure standard, however, does not apply to requests for information by a healthcare provider for treatment purposes. For example, if one must administer medication, the student will have full access to the medical record, which is covered by the patient's consent for treatment.
In order to protect patient/client privacy, all personally identifying information must be removed from student papers, such as care plans and case studies. Information to be removed includes the individual's name, initials, address, phone number, fax number, and social security number. Student papers may not be copied for careless circulation and handling. These written documents containing private health information must be carefully stored or shredded to prevent the circulation of confidential patient information. Confidentiality and privacy also extend to oral communications which extend beyond the need to know for treatment and/or educational purposes.
HIPAA is a Federal law. Penalties for wrongful disclosure range from fine and/or imprisonment.