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Comput Inform Nurs. 2015 Feb;33(2):58-62; quiz E1. doi: 10.1097/CIN.0000000000000126.

Is patient confidentiality compromised with the electronic health record?: a position paper.

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Author Affiliation: Nursing, Palm Beach State College, Lake Worth; and College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL.


In order for electronic health records to fulfill their expected benefits, protection of privacy of patient information is key. Lack of trust in confidentiality can lead to reluctance in disclosing all relevant information, which could have grave consequences. This position paper contemplates whether patient confidentiality is compromised by electronic health records. The position that confidentiality is compromised was supported by the four bioethical principles and argued that despite laws and various safeguards to protect patients' confidentiality, numerous data breaches have occurred. The position that confidentiality is not compromised was supported by virtue ethics and a utilitarian viewpoint and argued that safeguards keep information confidential and the public feels relatively safe with the electronic health record. The article concludes with an ethically superior position that confidentiality is compromised with the electronic health record. Although organizational and governmental ways of enhancing the confidentiality of patient information within the electronic health record facilitate confidentiality, the ultimate responsibility of maintaining confidentiality rests with the individual end-users and their ethical code of conduct. The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for nurses calls for nurses to be watchful with data security in electronic communications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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