Ashford Hospital Violated the Patient's Right to Confidentiality

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・4 Sources

There is legality attached to patient information and privacy to prevent those who work in health institutions from getting caught in situations where they leak the information to unauthorized personnel (Yasnoff, 2014). The privacy of medical patients is always secured from either people within the healthcare facility or an outside individual who has no rights whatsoever to access the information (Francis, 2014). As a medical practitioner, patient confidentiality and the privacy of the medical records of patients should be a fundamental obligation which should be followed to the latter and cases of violation of the rules surrounding the same have to be obeyed.

The more significant responsibility of safeguarding patient information rests on anyone who has either direct or indirect contact with it. It is noteworthy that it is quite a demanding task, but it serves in the prevention of access to the medical records by means that are inappropriate and may lead the compromisation of the patient’s outcome (McWay, 2015). In the event a patient falls ill and decide to seek medical attention in a healthcare facility of their choosing, aside from the factor they pay keen attention to which is an outcome that is promising, they always keep their privacy and confidentiality first.

The Plaintiff’s Side

Over the recent years, patients have had issues and concerns regarding the people who have access to their medical records. This is essentially attributed to the fact that there have been technological advances which have resulted in a rapid expansion and improvement in the way managed care is handled (Li, 2015). Also, there has been an emergence of consumerism which couples up in generating a more substantial number of individuals with access to patients' medical records. There should not be any negotiation into the confidentiality of a patient’s records as the constitution also grants the right to confidentiality. Other than that, when nurses take their courses in medical schools and colleges that offer medical related courses, they are taught how to handle patients which I tend to believe is in tandem with the most acceptable ways to manage their treatment records.

It is not just because they have a right to ensure that the information regarding their medical histories and treatment records are not exposed to anyone they feel is neither ready or uncomfortable to share it with in the first place. In this scenario, it is notable that the confidentiality of the patient’s information and health treatment records were violated by the institution when they were exposed to a supervisor in the same hospital (Francis, 2014). Such information was only meant to be exposed to Operating Room (OR) team that was scheduled to respond to her when she was receiving care in the facility. However, Case #5 states clearly that the information was impermissibly sent to the patient's supervisor yet he was not part of the patient's treatment team. This gives an outright implication that the Ashford Hospital violated the patient's operational clause or rather allegiance regarding the same.

The Defendant’s Side

The hospital is aware of the fact that patient confidentiality is one of the critical factors that ought to be paid particular attention to and does not deserve leniency since it dents the image of the whole facility and not just the people involved in the process. However, it is also important to consider the environment surrounding the occurrence of the event and ascertain whether or not it was an intentional act or merely an accident. Also, it is critical to note if at all the situation could have been due to a human error that could or could not be avoided. The patient is quite right to sue the facility as they or rather the people involved in the activity had no right to do so to one of their own as it is most likely to impair the way he/she would be carrying out his/her duties in the hospital after the matter gets solved. Also, it will significantly hamper the confidence the employee had before the ailment that made him or her to seek medical attention at the hospital.


The details regarding the case that are presented in case #5 as earlier shown, Ashford Hospital sent an email that had the details of the Operating Room (OR) schedule. Concisely, the Operating Room Schedule is usually a plan of the upcoming surgeries, and it always contains the information of the patient who is scheduled to undergo the process. Considering the fact that the information was sent through an email, it is not the facility's fault that it went to the hospital's supervisor. This is because the latter is meant to ensure the facility is running in a smooth manner through a natural occurrence of the daily roles among the employees (McWay, 2015). His duty also involves ensuring that scheduled surgeries take place without any problems whatsoever and this was not a different case even though the patient was an employee of the facility.

Since he/she was a patient, the medical practitioners should treat him/her as a patient and not an employee as if they do then they would treat him/her differently which would be unethical due do involvement of biasness (Li, 2015). The supervisor is in a high rank in the hospital, so the chances of finding out about the surgery were quite high. Also, the hospital's mail may be configured in such a way that if an email is sent to the employees of the hospital, it automatically goes to all the high ranked employees which apparently makes the disclosure an accident. It might have been that the department of the facility tasked with sending emails to employees regarding the Operating Room schedule thought it was just another email which was to serve as a notification to other employees and never bothered to check whether it was protected information or not.

Conclusively, Ashford Hospital may have been behind the disclosure of the patient’s protected information which is outrightly against the Privacy Rule of the facility but then the circumstances of the disclosure seem to be pointing out that it was not intentional and was hard to avoid because the person to whom the information was sent to was a senior employee in the hospital (Francis, 2014). I tend to believe that in consideration of the surrounding circumstances, making the hospital appear guilty is not the way forward and the charges against it should be dropped.


Francis, L. (2014). Privacy and health information: The United States and the European Union. Ky. LJ, 103, 419.
Li, J. (2015). A privacy preservation model for health-related social networking sites. Journal of medical Internet research, 17(7).
McWay, D. C. (2015). Legal and ethical aspects of health information management. Cengage Learning.
Yasnoff, W. A. (2014). Privacy, Confidentiality, and Security of Public Health Information. In Public Health Informatics and Information Systems (pp. 155-172). Springer London.

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