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HIPPA Privacy Rule – Legal Issue

Provision of mental health services in patients with substance abuse and diverse mental disorder calls for joint efforts among the various stakeholders. Care aims to provide comprehensive healthcare services that enhance emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. This calls for joint efforts between psychiatrists, PMHNP, Mental health providers, caregivers, therapists, family members, and providers to provide medical and social support for guaranteed health outcomes for the affected persons (Moore & Frye, 2019). The relevant stakeholders should share patient information to foster care coordination and enhance improved health outcomes of the affected person (Moore & Frye, 2019).

The information should be secured from unauthorized personnel and shared securely to ensure it reaches the intended user. HIPPA is a federal law that governs individuals’ health information sharing to avoid breaches that may contradict patients’ privacy (Moore & Frye, 2019). The HIPPA law is of great essence in delivering mental healthcare services as mental disorders are highly sensitive, and patients require their information to be treated with privacy to avoid exposure to uninterested parties (Moore & Frye, 2019). The law helps to ensure patients’ treatment records are well secured during the entire treatment and only revealed in case of any legal needs of the information or once the patient consents for the information to be shared. Many controversies surround the level at which patients’ information should be shared by mental health providers (Moore & Frye, 2019).

Lack of information sharing would be a barrier to providing comprehensive healthcare services. Thus, HIPPA law regulates the degree to which information is shared while keeping it private (Moore & Frye, 2019). Patients with mental disorders may be unable to make informed clinical decisions and decisions concerning their patients’ health information privacy. Based on this aspect, the HIPPA laws grants rights to patients’ representatives to access patients’ medical information through the HIPPA access rights (Moore & Frye, 2019).

HIPPA Privacy Rule – Ethical Issue

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act governs patients’ health information privacy in the United States. The act was initially designed to protect employees’ rights to health insurance between jobs, but currently, it covers the privacy measures to help govern the disclosure and use of patients’ information (Theodos & Sittig, 2021). The HIPPA law still faces some ethical controversies with allegations that it obstructs coordinated clinical care. The top healthcare providers argue that the law restricts them from delivery of an experience that matches the current technological changes (Theodos & Sittig, 2021). Consumers are adamant about using the system portals and prefer to directly text their care providers through messages and emails about their healthcare needs (Theodos & Sittig, 2021). Most patients are used to seamless communications and thus prefer to communicate with their care providers directly and want the same from them, thus creating biasness in using the system portal (Theodos & Sittig, 2021).

Suicide Risk Assessment Tool

The Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) is an evidence-based tool used to assess patients at risk of suicide. The tool has successfully been implemented across diverse settings, including colleges, schools, fire departments, and military bases, to screen patients (Bjureberg et al., 2021). the tool was initially developed by Columbia University in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and has since then been adopted by highly reputable organizations such as the Department of Defense, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, National Institute of Health and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) (Bjureberg et al., 2021).

The tool screens patients suspected of suicidal ideations or attempts through a rating scale where a patient is rated from “Wish to be Dead” to active suicidal ideations with intent, specific plan, and behaviors. The tool can be administered as a self-report or interview format (Bjureberg et al., 2021). The tool can identify individual behaviors that may indicate intent to commit suicide. Patients obtaining scores of 8 to 10 are at high risk of committing suicide and thus require close monitoring (Bjureberg et al., 2021).

Violence Risk Assessment Tool

Healthcare workers, especially mental health care providers, have been subject to increased incidences of violence. The violence may occur in the form of physical threats, excessive workloads, social undermining, intimidation, or physical attacks from patients (Sarver et al., 2019). Notably, the affected persons feel demeaned and may lose morale to undertake their duties to perfection, thus contributing to the health outcomes of the patients. The Brøset violence checklist (BVC) is an evidence-based tool that can help to detect violence within diverse encounters or environments (Sarver et al., 2019). The tool is composed of 6 items that help to assess the presence or absence of three patient behaviors, inclusive physical threats, verbal attacks, and attacks on objects (Sarver et al., 2019). Notably, people portraying two or more of these behaviors are subject to be violent for 24 hours.


Mental disorders are associated with high rates of stigma, and the affected patients require their information to be held with high levels of privacy. The HPPA laws are primarily devised to govern the patient’s health information protection to avoid breach of patient’s privacy. The HIPPA act was introduced in the country to govern the sharing of patient information to foster care coordination while upholding their privacy. Patients with advanced stages of mental disorders are at high risk of suicide. Thus, using the Columbia suicide severity rating scale helps identify patients with suicidal ideations to help initiate timely interventions. Workplace violence is a common encounter in clinical areas that may come from colleagues or patients and notably, the Brøset violence checklist helps to screen people who are subject to violence.


Bjureberg, J., Dahlin, M., Carlborg, A., Edberg, H., Haglund, A., & Runeson, B. (2021). Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale Screen Version: initial screening for suicide risk in a psychiatric emergency department. Psychological medicine, 1-9.

Moore, W., & Frye, S. (2019). Review of HIPAA, part 1: history, protected health information, and privacy and security rules. Journal of nuclear medicine technology47(4), 269-272.

Sarver, W. L., Radziewicz, R., Coyne, G., Colon, K., & Mantz, L. (2019). Implementation of the Brøset Violence Checklist on an acute psychiatric unit. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association25(6), 476-486.

Theodos, K., & Sittig, S. (2021). Health information privacy laws in the digital age: HIPAA doesn’t apply. Perspectives in health information management18(Winter).


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