Mandatory reporting of child abuse
HIPAA is the privacy rule that provides comprehensive protecting of individual health information from being disclosed or transmitted in any form to a third party, other that the health care provider and the patient with the consent of the patient, or without, following due procedure and rules in disclosing such information Olinde (2005; Finkelstein, 2003). The federal government has formulated laws concerning some mandatory reporting on child abuse and neglect. The case being discussed in this work directly relates to the provisions of CAPTA in which under the minimum definitions, Mrs. Anderson’s daughter is a minor and was sexually abused through molestation by her step- father and was impregnated. The laws in the United States of America require professionals and involved institutions to report any case suspects of child abuse. This includes health care providers. All the people in the health institution who were aware of Sandra’s abuse case were obliged to report the case to the relevant authorities as a purely child abuse case. According to Smith (2009), failure to report such cases can lead to a criminal liability which is punishable by fine. In this case, the law requires that an obliged person report cases of child abuse to a law enforcement agent or Children Protection Agents and not to relatives including parents.
Mrs. Anderson and Sandra case
In this case, Sandra is a minor who is represented by her mother. The Health and Safety Code Section 123110 provides for patient’s representative entitlement to health records of the minor seeking health services (California, Health and Safety Code, 2003). However, section 123115 (a) 2 provides that in case the health provider determines that provision of minor’s health records to the representative will lead to negative professional relationship between the health care provider and the minor, they are barred from disclosing the records to the representatives.
Sandra being a minor of 15 years does not have the capacity to make health care decisions and therefore depends on her representative (mother) to make most of her health care decisions. Thus, Mrs. Anderson had the right to access of the health records of her daughter due to this fact but only when Sandra signed for such disclosure as shown in Civil Code section 56.11 (c) 1. Mrs. Anderson intention to obtain the health records of her daughter was so that she could alter the records for the sake of family unity. Being a professional (middle administrative officer), Mrs. Anderson is obliged to keeping the patients records confidential without violating the rules as kept by the law. Hiving the above provision, Mrs. Anderson was thus not eligible to obtain the health records of Sandra by the mare fact that Sandra had not authorized for the release as provided by the law.
On the other hand, Mrs. Anderson intention in getting the health records of her daughter was so that she could alter it in the quest of protecting the family unity given that it is the Husband who had committed a child abuse offence. Civil Codes section 56.10 (b) 21(iv) restricts any information to be disclosed so that it can be later used or disclosed by the person receiving it in a manner that would directly or indirectly violate provisions in the Code of Federal Regulations part 164 title 45 which includes any manipulations of the records that would reveal medical information of the patient to a third party (California, Civil Code, 2003).
Recommendations and conclusions
This case provides a good representation of instances under which the health records and information may be disclosed to a third party without the consent of the patient given his social standing and also due to the influence of high ranking people to release such information. Although Mrs. Anderson had no legal rights to demand for the health records of her daughter, the emergency room physician was obliged to do the following. Firstly, the mother should have been denied the records irrespective of her being a senior employee in the institution. Secondly, a required by the law, every person who got aware of the case was obliged to report the case to the relevant authority specifically due to the child abuse aspect of the case. In addition, Mrs. Anderson was eligible for a civil offence due to the fact that her intentions in getting the report were aiming at altering the report for her personal reasons. To avoid such a case in future the law should provide for heavy penalties to professionals who act in a manner violating the law.
California Health and Safety Code. (2003). Sections 123100-123149.5. Web.
California Civil Code. (2003). Sections 56.10-56.16. Web.
Finkelstein, J. B. (2003). HIPAA minute. American Medical News, 46 (13):pp. 9.
Olinde, J. F., and McCard, H. (2005). Understanding the Boundaries of the HIPAA Preemption Analysis. Defense Counsel Journal, 72 (2): pp.158-169.
Smith, S. K. (2006). Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect. Web.