Privacy is a patient right. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists have an ethical and legal responsibility to safeguard patient information. Patient information includes such information as personal data, medical history, diagnosis, treatment, and financial situation. A violation of patient confidentiality could cause the patient to suffer from emotional trauma; loss of job, family, friends; harassment from others including the media; and loss of insurance coverage.
Patient information should be shared only on a need-to-know basis with those who participate in the care of the patient. Patient information should not be shared with anyone else without the patient's written permission. Court orders, subpoenas, OPD investigations all may be examples of required disclosure.
Patient information, written or electronic, must be kept secure from loss, theft, or unauthorized access, use or disclosure. Confidential information should be kept out of plain view, and stored in a secure environment. Care should be taken not to talk about patients in public places, even without using the patient's name.
Under Part 29.1 of the Commissioner's Regulations, Regents Rules on Unprofessional Conduct, it is unprofessional conduct to reveal personally identifiable facts, data or information obtained in a professional capacity without the prior consent of the patient or client, except as authorized or required by law. Violation of this confidentiality rule may result in a professional being brought up on charges of unprofessional conduct.
Patient information must be consistent with HIPPA and FERPA, as they apply.