Patient Identity Management
Having accurate patient identification mechanisms is the foundation for successfully linking patient records across healthcare ecosystems. It is also essential to having a patient-centered health system and patient-centered health processes (Hannah & Kathryn, 2015). Hospitals have invested a lot of money in systems that aid them to identify patients and trace their records despite the different ID’s that patients could be using in the different hospital sections (Matyas &Vashek, 2009). If a patient came and registered with the Radiotherapy department as Bob, it would be hard for the physicians to trace such a patient if he often uses Robert instead of Bob. This is very dangerous because it would lead to physicians making wrong inferences and prescribing wrong medications that would eventually cause more harm than good to the patient. Hospitals have stepped up their efforts to avoid such issues becoming rampant through the acquisition of clinical data repositories such as physicians EHRs, hospital EMRs, and state vaccination records (Hannah & Kathryn, 2015)
The value of health information exchange (HIE) is indeed something that physicians never fail to acknowledge because they know how essential it is (Hannah & Kathryn, 2015). Physicians have been able to gain access to patient healthcare data, which has made it possible for them to make informed decisions instead of making wild guesses and inferences. Patients have different records. This means that they have different allergies, different prescriptions, chronic conditions and also procedures (Hannah & Kathryn, 2015). For example; patients with peanut allergy are always advised never to have peanut due to the severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (Bischoff & Alexander, 2006). This information is very important to physicians. Physicians will not only know how to proceed if such an incident happens, but will also be able to save the life of a patient. HIE is indeed important, and a patient’s identity together with their medical history should be easily accessible to the physicians.
At times the hospital staff might take the issue of Language Access Policy (LAP) for granted but it is also valuable and plays a key role in ensuring that patients are well taken care of (Bischoff & Alexander, 2006). Hospitals have a significant number of patients who are limited in language proficiency (Bischoff & Alexander, 2006). This means that most of them are not able to clearly explain their conditionsto the physicians. This presents a big challenge to the hospital staff because getting a patient’s history and their current medical condition is imperative to appropriate medication being offered. Using the same example of a peanut allergy patient, if the physician is not able to know exactly what the patient is suffering from, then it would be hard for him to administer the epinephrine that is needed immediately by such patients. Language is indeed very important and in most cases, a patient’s life is dependent on the physician’s understanding of the patient’s description.
Language is not only important in understanding the patient’s condition and history but also in the provision of appropriate healthcare. Having interpreters in medical facilities is essential and imperative in ensuring that all patients have access to appropriate healthcare services. Hospitals should conduct background checks on the interpreters before they decide to give them the job to ensure that genuine interpreters with a complete understanding of a certain language are acquired. Interpreters should also be taken through several tests to ensure that they provide accurate and comprehensive interpreting. For example, physicians could notice that patients die, or their condition worsens after they use the interpreter’s information. In a situation such as this, it could mean that the interpreter is either lying to them, or he does not understand the patient’s language, and in both cases, the patient’s life is endangered.
Patient’s privacy and security of health information have become an important concern nowadays. Healthcare providers are required by law to comply and adhere to the laws that govern or protect patient’s privacy (Mayer et al, 2004). Patient’s privacy is not only protected by the land laws, but it is also bolstered by the medical ethics guiding principles (Mayer et al, 2004). Physicians need to be warned of the consequences that their actions could have on their patients. For example, AIDS-related discrimination and stigma persist, and people with the HIV/AIDS virus have been victims of discrimination in workplaces, health care and also housing (Mayer et al, 2004). It not only affects their decision to obtain health care but also goes a long way in discouraging them to get tested and even seek treatment (Mayer et al, 2004). Complying with the privacy rules is indeed very important and all health care facilities need to adhere to them.
In certain situations, there are instances where physicians could be forced to reveal patients health information.In an instance where withholding the patient’s health condition could put the public at risk, then it will be inevitable for health care professionals to reveal the information for the greater good (McGowan, 2012). As a matter of fact, the law requires that health care professionals make such information known to the public (McGowan, 2012). For example, just recently in West Africa, there were Ebola cases and many people died as a result. If a health care professional had information about the disease outbreak and decided to withhold it then as per the land laws, he could be tried and eventually jailed (McGowan, 2012). Health providers are aware of this and even though many always adhere to the patient privacy laws, they all know that exceptions exist. Patient privacy is indeed very important and some health care professionals have been sued for breach of contract or professional negligence but as said before, there are instances where physicians are allowed by law to reveal private patient information (McGowan, C., 2012).
Hannah, Kathryn J. Introduction to Nursing Informatics. , 2015. Internet resource.
Mayer, Ken, and H F. Pizer. The Aids Pandemic: Impact on Science and Society. Burlington: Elsevier, 2004. Internet resource.
McGowan, C. Critical Care Nurse: Patients’ Confidentiality. Vol 32, No. 5, 2012.
Bischoff, Alexander. Caring for Migrant and Minority Patients in European Hospitals: A Review of Effective Interventions. Neuchatêl: Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies, 2006.
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