A Brief Introduction About a Medical Confidentiality Agreement
In general, confidentiality means the right of the person to protect their personal information. One such confidentiality agreement is medical confidentiality, where the medical records are made available only to the physician and the related patient. Disclosure of medical information is strictly prohibited, and hence, a medical confidentiality agreement is framed to protect such information. This policy is strictly implemented and followed by all medical professionals where there is a necessity to maintain all medical records.
Who Takes the Medical Confidentiality Agreement?
A Medical confidentiality agreement is signed between two parties, the one who provides the confidential data and the one who consumes it — medical professionals. It may extend to more than two parties and everyone involved has to sign the agreement. So, the health-related information of an individual needs to be kept secret by not revealing it to other employers by the physician and this agreement enforces the same rule. This agreement is usually signed by employees, contractors, or any business agencies related to the hospital and all the agreements are framed by hospitals.
Purpose of the Medical Confidentiality Agreement
The main purpose of this agreement is to preserve the patient’s data that are known by the employees or vendors of an organization. As the medical information is confidential, employees or vendors should not reveal it to any third party according to this agreement. If they disclose such confidential information to others, legal action could be taken against them strictly. Thus, the main purpose is to control the patient’s data being leaked or misused.
Contents of the Medical Confidentiality Agreement
Normally, medical professionals have access to the patient’s confidential data like x-rays, medical reports, medicines given to patients, and other crucial details related to the patient. Also, they have access to the financial data of patients like medical bills, insurance details, etc. Thus, employees should not reveal such confidential information of patients out of the system. Otherwise, the clients could take an action against the hospital
There is a federal law called the Health Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which applies to all health care professionals to follow the privacy rules formulated by the act. HIPAA sets some detailed rules regarding the three main factors, such as privacy, access, and disclosure of confidential information. According to HIPAA confidentiality, the organization that doesn’t follow the rules will face serious legal issues.
A standard medical confidentiality agreement template includes the following
- Description of the parties to the contract including the applicability of the agreement
- Description of the act that governs this agreement
- Description of the eligibility under the law
- Description of confidential personnel and medical data
- Description of confidential business data
- Acknowledgment of
- Respecting all client information during all discussions
- Recognition of moral and ethical responsibility and abiding by the codes of conduct
- Dissemination of information as directed by the hospital under the law
- Compliance with the audit the hospital shall conduct
- Compliance with recording of access for accessing any electronic data
- Additional protection for medical issues specifically protected under the law such as HIV, psychiatric drugs and usage
- Continuing to maintain confidentiality even after the termination of employment
How to Draft a Medical Confidentiality Agreement?
While drafting the agreement, it is necessary to add essential information in the agreement that you want to maintain much more confidential. But there is no need to add other details that you don’t have any problem with sharing them with others by your employees or vendors.
One can consult a medical expert or a legal attorney to get an idea to draft the agreement in the right way. Make sure that they are experts in advising or writing the medical confidentiality agreements as per the local laws. Get the help of professional agencies to draft the contract. When drafting this agreement, certain points have to be kept in mind such as
- The description of what constitutes confidential information
- The extent of dissemination of information when the hospital asks or when the law requires
- The process of such dissemination
- Whether consult with other doctors on any issue is permissible
- Whether such permitted consult must happen with doctors within the hospital or outside the hospital as well
- Accidental leaking of information during consultation with the other doctors through eavesdropping, phone recording, over call, or other means, and the ways to handle it
- What happens in case of breach of contract and the ways to address it
In a medical confidentiality agreement, the organization should make sure of using the right form of agreement that is following the standard laws and regulations. It is essential to highlight the information in the agreement that is considered to be confidential. Check whether you are following the international rules like HIPAA, etc.
Benefits & Drawbacks of a Medical Confidentiality Agreement
- This agreement protects the patient’s confidential information
- A Medical contract also ensures that there is some privacy over the medical research carried out the professionals within the healthcare center
- This contract helps to maintain the plans and strategies secret until the legal formalities are completed
- A Medical contract helps to safeguard the complicated medical procedures used by the health care centers
- The contract allows the organization to draft the agreement according to their needs and preferences
- The agreement gives a clear view for the people who sign the agreement about what to maintain as confidential and avoid the disclosure of medical information to the employer
- The contract is considered to be a proof to show in the court
- It doesn’t help for the patients when the employees or vendors violate the rules.
- It still generates the complaint even after implementing this contract.
- The contract provides only the needed medical record information.
What Happens in Case of Violation?
In case of violating(1) this agreement, the party signing the agreement has to face the legal consequence. The agreement mentions all those consequences clearly to the signing party when they breach it. The agreement ensures that the people who sign the agreement abide by the legal rules, and the one not following it will face the legal action.
A medical confidentiality agreement ensures that no information about the patient leaks out of the hospital or health care center(2). Thus, increases personal privacy of the patient’s health care information and allowing patients to make personal changes to their medical file. Thus, the agreement protects the confidential information no matter what it is. Breach of this contract constitutes violation of professional codes of conduct and can be reported to the medical council. The hospital or the doctor in such breach could lose their license as well.