6 Ways to Maintain Patient Confidentiality Within Your Office

Reposted with permission: Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company – Your NYACP Member Benefit

The following risk management tip provides guidance to support physicians and facilities in their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of patient care and reduce liability exposure in the practice of medicine.

The Risk: Inadvertent breach of patient confidentiality.

Recommendations:  Office staff must be aware that routine office practices, such as discussing patient information within earshot of other patients, can breach patient confidentiality.

  1. Educate your staff periodically to reinforce the need to maintain patient confidentiality and to never never discuss patients outside the office.
  2. Every year, have your staff sign a confidentiality agreement.
  3. Assess your physical premises to determine the flow of patients through the office and how best to ensure that confidential patient information, written or spoken, is kept private.
  4. Assess staff work areas to determine patients’ accessibility to computer screens and patient information. How quickly are computer users logged off the system when data entry stops?
  5. Set up your office in such a way that staff conversations can not be overheard in the waiting area.
  6. Obtain written consent from patients so that minimal information can be left on telephone answering machines.

Please contact MLMIC’s Risk Management Department at (800) 275-6564, weekdays 9:00 AM – 4:45 PM for guidance regarding your specific situation.

This post does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New York Chapter American College of Physicians (NYACP).

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