A current administrative issue relating to topics such as patient privacy, confidentiality, or HIPAA is as follow. A specific issue that was in the news is the privacy rights as applied to the patients who use medical marijuana. This issue involves the information that medical marijuana is permissible in some states according to those state laws. This means that thousands of patients will be allowed to access marijuana for medical purpose as long as it is recommended by their physicians. With this issue in effect I believe that thousands of these people will have their independence and privacy in jeopardy because if state law permits the use of marijuana and federal law does not permit it, the patients will be committing crimes according to federal law and this can be an definitely jeopardize a patients freedom. All activities at medical marijuana dispensaries are often surveillance and this puts patient’s confidentiality in danger. An additional issue that I’m concerned about due to the medical marijuana is the way in which the law is written in reference to the medical marijuana. Each state has its own laws concerning medical marijuana and there is a discrepancy with privacy issues to the way that the laws are transcribed and the possible risk that patients are accommodating regarding their privacy rights.
An instance where medical marijuana laws are not clarified is the new amendments to those laws which place restrictions and terms that result in patient privacy being exposed. Patient privacy should be enforced at all times according to the HIPAA laws and should be upheld unless the patient provides consent in releasing their medical information. In January of 2011, the Department of Revenue Licensing Authority in Colorado held an unrestricted hearing to acquire the public viewpoint about the current and proposed amendments to Colorado medical marijuana laws. As I thought, one arising issue that came about was that under the proposed amendments, surveillance of patients retrieving their medical marijuana will put their privacy and criminal record in danger. Since the proposed amendment would release patient medical history to various people such as the county clerks and other city officials this would be consider a breach in confidentiality, privacy and is also contradictory with the HIPAA laws. With the HIPAA laws, all patients’ medical records should be kept confidential unless the patients’ consent to the release of their medical information.
In Colorado under the amendment to the medical marijuana laws the patients’ records are available to various people without the patients consent even though the Colorado voters argue that they voted for maximum protection of the privacy of the state medical marijuana patients. In 2000 under Ballot measure 20, the voters of Colorado decided that the act of disclosing any confidential information or records without patients’ permission would be punishable by a class one misdemeanor charge. There are numerous ethical and legal issues which are conveyed from this issue. With this issue there are inconsistent perspectives from the public, so it is challenging to determine what is ethical on a social scale. The legal issue that we are faced with is that even when the state law authorizes something, federal law can overrule the state laws and legal action can be taken. This action can allow patients’ to be at risk of being categorized and possibly even charged as a criminal, even though it is legal by state law. Ethically this concern is not set in stone and can be changed at any time. There are people who are supportive of the medical marijuana laws and others who are not.
For a medical marijuana patient it is most definitely unethical to disclose medical information to another source without proper consent even though others are objective that the medical records of patients using medical marijuana should not be protected under the same HIPAA laws as other patients because marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law and consequently federal crimes are being committed. I strongly believe that this issue will be an on-going issue because of the many conflicts, even though there have been several proposed solution to the many issues that different states deals with after passing medical marijuana laws. There was a solution passed into law in Maine on June of 2011. This helped to loosen the strict laws on medical marijuana in that state and it helped to enforce and ensure the privacy rights of those patients’. According to the new bill, there are several key points which are essential to protect patients’ privacy. One of the solutions states that a common law in medical marijuana states that patients’ must register with the state to get medical marijuana. Under the new Maine law, registering with the state is not mandatory, but protecting patient privacy is.
In addition to Maine laws, the next important part of the law states that physicians can now recommend medical marijuana for any type of ailments and diseases that the physician sees fit. Patients with serious and painful diseases can now get relief in the form of medical marijuana only if the physician recommends/prescribes it. The final important part of the new Maine medical marijuana laws is that countries or municipalities can no longer create laws and regulations which conflicts with state laws. What I have learned from writing this paper is to remember that everyone information should be considered as top secret. Following HIPAA laws is one of the ways to protect patient’s medical information to ensure privacy and complete confidentiality. With medical marijuana patients the same respect should apply to their medical records by simply following the necessary guidelines to ensure patient privacy.
Americans for safe access Retrieved from
http://www. Safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=6258 retrieved on September 23, 2012
Freedom is green. Retrieved from http://freedomisgreen.com/privacy-improvements-for medical-marijuana-patients-in-Maine/ retrieved on September 23, 2012
The Huffington post Retrieved from http://huffingtonpost.com/steph-sherer/patient-privacy-should-be_b_814793.html