Government Ethics and the Law



Read Chapter 7 – Government Ethics and the Law.

Discuss how the federal statutes discussed in Chapter 7 protect individual’s rights (e.g. privacy and self-determination).

Provide examples.Use terms and concepts from the assigned reading, cite specific legislative acts from the reading and demonstrate that you understand their content.

Please end your post in a question or two for your peers to respond to.

Respond to two or more of your classmates in a meaningful way, and in a way that brings new content to the conversation.


After reading through chapter 7 I learned that there are several laws and policies that protect patients from any malpractice or misuse. This includes the the privacy act of 1974 title 5. This act protects all patients from having their private health information exposed to any other individual or organization that was not approved by the patient. This act is one of the main rules that I see at the hospital I work at because all medical information is sensitive and as healthcare professionals sometimes we may forget all that this includes. Someone can easily break this rule by revealing a patients diagnosis by mistake to someone that the patient is unaware of. Another policy that protects patients is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act also known as EMTALA. This allows patients to receive emergency medical treatment even if they find themselves without medical insurance at the hospital. I have had experience with this policy when I found myself without health insurance and having to visit the emergency room. I remember I was reluctant to go because I did not want to get a huge medical bill or get turned away because I couldn’t pay for the services but I was assured that I would get the treatment I needed and the hospital worked with me to be able to get emergency coverage to help with the medical cost afterwards.

Class Question:

Have you had any experience where you felt your patient rights were violated? If so which policy do you believe was violated?


The Fourteen Amendment protects the rights of all American Citizens.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all US citizens and prohibits any organization from receiving federal funds if they are found to racially discriminate. Patient’s paper, electronic and verbal information are all protected under privacy, confidentiality, and patient information. They are also protected under the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996(HIPPA). The federal law (HIPPA) requires doctors, nurses, healthcare organizations, facilities, and anyone involved with patient care to be very careful of breaching this law. Everything about the patient is confidential and privacy must be respected and treated with high sensitivity. A signed consent by the patient is necessary for the authorization of persons or entity that you are entitled to disclose information to. Some of the entities that are covered but not limited to are healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates. Individuals that can be included can be anyone that the patient disclosed in her HIPPA form (HIPAA). An example of breaching a HIPPA law would be discussing a patient medical condition in front of other staff or other patients.

Another law that congress passed in 1986 was the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. In which a Medicare-participating hospital cannot be denied care to a patient in medical distress.  A patient must be taken care of and provided with the necessary care to stabilize the patient. An example of a breach of EMTALA would be a patient that goes to the emergency room with an asthma attack and the hospital refuses to give him emergency medical attention because the patient cannot provide them with health insurance at the moment (Pozgar).

The Patient Healthcare Quality Improvement Act of 1986 gives information for professional reviews.  These reviews stay with the physician even if they move from state to state. Even if the physician does not mention any previous incident, their history can be seen in the national reporting system (Pozgar).

The Agency for Healthcare and Quality is responsible for providing research for ways to improve healthcare. They develop knowledge, tools, and data that are required to improve the performance of healthcare systems. This is essential as it helps patients, healthcare professionals, and policymakers make a better decisions. These decisions work toward the ultimate goal of reducing healthcare costs and providing essential services with the patients’ best interests in mind.

Patients also have the right to make decisions and choices about the kind of treatment they are willing to accept or refuse.  The PSDA mandates that all healthcare settings accept Medicare and Medicaid to acknowledge the living will and power of attorney as directives. Patients must also be provided with educational material of the PSDA. The patient wishes that were made while still competent enough to make a decision should be followed by their surrogate decision-maker as stipulated by Patient Self Determination Act PSDA (Pozgar).

What is the importance of having a well train staff on patient rights for example HIPPA?

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