I welcome changes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) will bring ("How HIPAA Will Change Your Practice," September 2002). In the past, health information contained in paper records would have been difficult to remove and use outside an organization. Today, electronic storage of data allows records to be sent in minutes.
Unfortunately, with these advances in technology have come the potential for misuse and abuse. Electronic records can be easily sorted to create a profile or list of patients with expensive medical conditions. This information can be used to hurt an individual's chances of getting a job or health insurance.
As nurses, we have an ethical obligation to ensure patient confidentiality.