Positive and negative ramifications HIPAA might have on medical social work practice

HIPAA and Electronic Medical Records

An electronic health or medical record (EMR) is a digital version of a paper medical chart that contains a patient’s medical history. EMRs offer clinicians and patients increased access to information and assist in the coordination of care. In hospitals, EMRs are particularly useful because each member of the health care team is able to monitor a patient’s progress across disciplines. A social worker, for example, is able to read, in real time, the note of every physician, nurse, or therapist who has seen a patient. To maintain HIPAA compliance, institutions have strict policies that restrict access to EMRs. These policies require computers and networks to be secure, ensuring that only authorized users can access protected health information.

To prepare for this Discussions, review this week’s resources including the article by Harman et al. Consider the complexities involving the emerging electronic health record system. Think about how the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules apply to EMRs.

By Day 4

Post an explanation of how the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules apply to EMRs. Then, address the following questions and explain your reasoning:

  • Can a social worker access any patient’s electronic medical record?
  • Can a social worker access his or her own electronic medical record?
  • Can a social worker access the electronic medical record of his/her family members?

Finally, explain the positive and negative ramifications HIPAA might have on medical social work practice in clinical settings with regard to handling EMRs.

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