From Hippocrates to HIPAA: Privacy and Confidentiality in Emergency Medicine - Part II: Challenges in the Emergency Department

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Part I of this article reviewed the concepts of privacy and confidentiality and described the moral and legal foundations and limits of these values in health care. Part II highlights specific privacy and confidentiality issues encountered in the emergency department (ED). Discussed first are physical privacy issues in the ED, including problems of ED design and crowding, issues of patient and staff safety, the presence of visitors, law enforcement officers, students, and other observers, and filming activities. The article then examines confidentiality issues in the ED, including protecting medical records, the duty to warn, reportable conditions, telephone inquiries, media requests, communication among health care professionals, habitual patient files, the use of patient images, electronic communication, and information about minor patients.