Psychologists may reveal private information without agreement if necessary to safeguard the patient or the public from serious damage—for example, if a client discloses intentions to commit suicide or injure another person. If a court order is obtained, psychologists may reveal material. Otherwise, they would be in violation of privacy laws.
In addition, psychologists may disclose personal information with patients' consent or when permitted by law. For example, health professionals have an obligation to notify appropriate authorities if they suspect child abuse or neglect. Similarly, teachers must report suspicions of sexual abuse to the authorities.
Finally, psychologists may release information about their clients to other practitioners within their organization. For example, a therapist might discuss a case with another therapist who is knowledgeable about the patient's problems and treatment options.
Who else could find out about your therapy? Only your therapist can decide who else should know about your treatment. She could tell her colleagues at her practice site about your appointment. They might also be told by someone who was not a part of your treatment team (but would like to be) if you agreed to this. Your therapist could also write about your work online or in journals so others can read about it. However, only you can decide what happens to any written records that are created during your therapy sessions.
You may only release sensitive information in the public interest without the patient's agreement, or if consent is refused, if the advantages to a person or society outweigh the public and patient's interests in keeping the information confidential. This would include cases where the patient is likely to commit identity theft or other crimes, or where disclosure is necessary for health care purposes.
In addition, you may disclose any personally identifiable information about an individual patient or clinical trial participant if that patient or participant has given you written permission to do so. Failure to follow this policy could result in legal action being taken against the hospital.
What circumstances permit disclosure without authorization? When a patient asks access to their information, authorization to disclose is gained, information is utilized for treatment, payment, and health care operations, disclosures are collected inadvertently, and information is required for research, all require authorization to release.
In addition, disclosures may be made when necessary to protect the safety of patients or staff, comply with law, or if the institution has notified other parties that information about them may be disclosed. Finally, disclosures may be made in response to valid requests by others as long as these requests are not harmful or threatening to the patient's well-being.
So yes, disclosure without authorization is allowed in many situations.
Communication between a clinician and a client may be disclosed only when: (a) the client signs a consent form and/or our release of information form authorizing such disclosure; (b) the client or someone else is in immediate danger of serious harm; or (c) other infrequent circumstances as described below...
The common law right of privacy allows an individual to control the dissemination of information about him or her. However, this right is not absolute. There are times when a person's rights may be limited by the need to disclose medical information for purposes of treatment or health care investigations. For example, if a doctor suspects that a patient is suffering from AIDS, the doctor would be permitted by law to discuss the patient's condition with other doctors or nurses involved in the patient's care. In addition, a doctor may disclose information about his patients to hospital administrators or insurance companies.
Healthcare providers must also comply with federal laws and regulations governing the privacy of patient records. These laws include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which was enacted by Congress in 1996 to provide national standards for protecting the privacy of personal health information. The regulation implementing HIPAA is called "Privacy Rule" and can be found at 45 CFR part 160.
In addition to federal laws, many states have passed their own privacy laws.