My opinion: As the article below states, it is not illegal to use one's full name in the medical setting, although there certainly may be severe consequences. I guess this is one of the reasons why HIPPAA laws keep becoming stricter. When I volunteer in the hospital, people are not allowed to talk about patients in public settings, even if is between two doctors - if it is an emergency, though, I believe they may whisper to each other so no one else can hear, and quickly move to an employees only area. Though these discussions are often in depth, it is now clear that doing something as simple as saying a name could put one's privacy in danger. Whenever I go to the doctor's office, they always call the patients up by first names only. But if the name is really common, there may be multiple people with the same first name. Perhaps the medical staff could call people out by their first names and last name initial, to be as specific and confidential as possible. On a related note, I don't think I ever fully understood the consequences of releasing private information. Apparently, insurance companies may raise rates for certain races that are likely to have a genetic defect. Are there any worse consequences by releasing information? And just how strict should these confidentiality laws be? Feel free to comment.
Alex (not his real name) is a 27-year-old male living with HIV. Since
his diagnosis he has faced bouts of severe depression. Over time he has
come to terms with his condition. Recently he called me to express his
frustrations with the HIV clinic where he receives medical care. I was
shocked and dismayed by the story he shared with me.
Alex went to see his physician in an HIV clinic operated by the
University of California. This clinic provides medical care exclusively
to patients with HIV and AIDS and apparently has a standard practice of
calling patients to the exam room by their first and last names. On this
visit another patient was able to look him up on Facebook in a matter
of minutes while still in the waiting room. He quickly discovered where
Alex worked and who his friends and family are. Then he did something
very despicable: He solicited Alex for a sexual encounter, and when Alex
refused, stating that he was in a committed relationship, the other
patient threatened to tell everyone on his Facebook page about his HIV
Is it reasonable to assume that a patient in a medical clinic that
only provides medical care to people with HIV is HIV-positive? Does
using the patient's full name violate patient confidentiality and the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPAA) of 1996?
The answer may surprise you: No, it does not violate the current HIPPAA