LEGAL QUESTIONS: Deadly secrets

July 2004 
Volume 34  Number 7
Pages 23 - 23
  PDF Version Available!

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 34(7)             July 2004             p 23 Deadly secrets [LEGAL QUESTIONS: PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY]


My first position as a nurse is in a family health clinic. I have a concern: If a patient tests positive for a sexually transmitted disease but insists that we don't tell his spouse, are we obligated to tell anyway or should we keep the test results confidential? —R.Z., TENN.

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) affects confidentiality in all aspects of patient care. State reporting laws are created in accord with HIPAA restrictions but may provide additional, more demanding protections. So whether you're permitted (or obligated) to disclose information to a spouse would depend on the situation and your state's laws.

Don't try to figure ...

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